Seven District 202 early childhood teachers each received a new Bonnie McBeth Early Learning Grant to help continue their professional growth and improve their classroom skills.
This year’s inaugural Bonnie McBeth Early Learning Grant winners all work at the Bonnie McBeth Learning Center or one of its satellite classrooms around District 202. Bonnie McBeth is the district’s preschool:
The grant this year replaced the Bonnie McBeth Early Learning Scholarship, which was given to only one recipient each year since its inception in 2007.
The Plainfield Foundation for Excellence administers the grant on behalf of McBeth’s family. Mrs. McBeth passed away in 2014. McBeth was District 202’s first kindergarten teacher in 1951. She taught kindergarten and reading and worked as a reading specialist during her 38-year education career.
She created and endowed the annual scholarship in 2007 to support early learning teachers taking graduate-level course work in early childhood education.
However, Foundation Trustees decided this year to change the prize’s structure to make it more attractive to teachers after several years of dwindling participation.
Previously, the Foundation awarded a scholarship of up to $1,500 to a single recipient to help pay for graduate-level work. Now, the Foundation will award up to $2,500 to multiple recipients to help pay for a wide range of professional development programs.
Forty-one teachers applied for the new grant – the largest number ever.
“We believe these changes very strongly align with Bonnie McBeth’s original vision and intent when she so generously created her scholarship, which was to improve early childhood education by helping early childhood teachers be the very best they can be in the classroom,” said Foundation for Excellence Trustee Ina Brixey. She and fellow Trustee Pat Herman oversee the McBeth Grant for the Foundation.