(Courtesy photo) Amy Kuntz (left) a fourth-grade instructor at Caro’s Schall Elementary School was one of 10 Michigan educators selected by the Michigan Department of Education to join the Innovative Educator Corps, a statewide recognition and grant program that recognizes educators who utilize an innovative educational program. Kuntz will receive a $5,000 stipend in recognition of her work, plus $5,000 to be used in partnership with the Caro Community Schools District. Kuntz is pictured with Schall principal Michelle Warren.

Schall teacher receives $5,000 grant from state

You’re never too young to start thinking about a career. 

And with help from a $5,000 grant from the state of Michigan, local teacher Amy Kuntz will present a new way to instill that into her fourth-grade students.

Kuntz, who teaches at Caro’s Schall Elementary School, 325 Frank St., is one of 10 Michigan educators who have been chosen in the latest round to join the Michigan Department of Education Innovative Educator Corps. 

She will receive a $5,000 stipend in recognition of her work, plus $5,000 to be used in partnership with the Caro Community Schools District.

Kuntz said she learned of the grant last month.

“I wasn’t sure I understood when they called to tell me, so I asked them to repeat it and it finally soaked in,” Kuntz said. “When I realized what they were saying, it was really exciting.”

Each school district can nominate one teacher for the initiative. 

“A teacher from (Saginaw Valley State University) sent me the information and told me I was a strong candidate, and that I needed to look into it,” Kuntz said. “So I approached our (board of education) and they chose me as our nominee.”

As part of the application process, candidates are required to submit a budget, explaining how the $5,000 will be used. 

“I’m trying to turn my classroom into more of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) laboratory setting,” Kuntz said, “so the kids will have specific areas to do things that are related to future careers.” 

Each spring, Schall hosts a technology showcase, and a portion of the grant money will be used for the event.

“I’m going to try to start an innovation challenge,” Kuntz said, “and use some of the grant to get materials for that. I’d like to see (students) get into solving some real-world problems, and how they would accomplish that.”

The challenge would include prizes and, if successful, Kuntz would expand the challenge to include other Tuscola County schools.

Now that she has been selected to the Innovative Educator Corps, Kuntz has the opportunity to apply for additional years of grant money. Corps members are encouraged to keep in touch with others, sharing ideas and reporting on how the grant money is used.

“We are proud of how these educators are changing the way they deliver content and improving the way our students learn – ultimately increasing their opportunity for success,” said interim state Superintendent Sheila Alles in a press release. “The support that comes with this recognition will help these educators expand their programs for more students, and help share their practice with other educators around the state.”

Funding for the Innovative Educator Corps was made possible by the Marshall Plan for Talent, a $100 million workforce development initiative passed in 2018 that aims to prepare Michigan students for high-demand jobs of the future.

Last spring, Cindy Olson, a business and marketing instructor at the Tuscola Technology Center, was named to the Innovative Educator Corps.

In summer 2018, LEGO announced it would sponsor the first United States LEGO Education Master Educator program. About 100 educators from the U.S. were selected for the inaugural program, including Kuntz.

According to a press release from LEGO Education, “The LEGO Education Master educators will enjoy many activities including access to like-minded educators, insider news of special LEGO Education offers and events and recognition. They will also be invited to provide feedback to LEGO hands-on learning solutions and problems.”

John Schneider is editor of The Advertiser. He can be reached at john@tcadvertiser.com.

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