The Rita Langworthy Foundation Board of Directors, with input from the Advisory Board, unanimously voted to award a $250 Books for Kids grant to Katie Condon, a teacher at Saginaw Public School District’s Zilwaukee Elementary. The grant will be used to purchase books for her classroom students.
What percentage of your student population is considered at-risk? Please explain.
I am not sure what our actual at-risk percentage is, but I do know it is very high. Our school has qualified for free and reduced lunch for MANY years due to our economical hardships. More than 85% is under our poverty line and therefore bring us to a Title 1 school. Some of our students receive food bags on Friday, just to make sure they have food for the weekend. Some of our students, don’t know if they are going to eat dinner when they get home. Each student receives a breakfast and lunch everyday, free of cost.
Why did you personally choose the education field for your vocation?
I started volunteering in my step-daughters class when she was in Kindergarten. I fell in love! I was asked to think about going into education and it wasn’t a second guess or a long thought. I knew right away that I needed to back to school for education. Going through classes was very rewarding, working with all different types of students, younger, older, very young. I had all that experience! I started teaching and I have NEVER EVER looked back. My students have and still mean more to me than most others. They are not just students they are my kids! I chose teaching because it’s a passion, my calling, my love! I enjoy going to school every single day. They need me, just as much as I need them!
What strengths do you possess that will facilitate the implementation of an award?
I believe that a strength I possess is confidence. I know they students will do great, because I believe in them and I push them to do better each and every day. I am confident in what I do and am so proud of the accomplishments the students have overcome.
What is your greatest challenge as an educator?
One of my greatest challenges as an educator is to not take things so personally. I know they are kids and I know that what they do is not a direct reflection on just me, but it’s hard not to take it personally. I treat them as if they were my own and if they don’t do well or if something happens I push myself to the limits to give them what they need to perform and be their best.
What is your student population’s greatest challenge?
Our greatest challenge would be parent involvement. We struggle to have parents or caregivers come through our doors to help or volunteer or even show up for a music concert. It is difficult to have parents know what is going on if we are not able to find a way to get them into our building.
For what are you seeking this grant?
I would love to let me students touch and smell the pages of new books that they have been begging me for since the beginning of the school year. Our students don’t get the chance to have books be put in their hands. We have books, but with tape around them, pages torn out, or just books that are old and they don’t have any interest in. My students have fallen in love with reading and I would love to be able to put a book in their hand and let them smell the brand new pages and have them feel a new book. It’s a feeling that everyone should experience.
How would this grant impact the lives of your students?
Being able to put books in students hands is such a huge impact. These students come to me everyday to see if I have new books for them to read. They have pushed themselves so far this school year and I would love to give them more books to push them even further. They are a group of students that do not have many opportunities and giving them this is an impact all on its own. This is an opportunity for them to change the life around them and I can’t wait to see what they do.