In tough economic times every little bit helps, especially if you are a special education teacher. As public school children headed back to classes for the 2016-2017 academic year several Garner teachers had a little extra help to make ends meet in their classrooms.
Thanks to grants from the Knights of Columbus Operation Lamb program at St. Mary, Mother of the Church Catholic Church on Vandora Springs Rd. 10 local teachers will be able to provide some special programs for their students this year. Teachers Jamie McIntosh (Rand Road Elementary School);
Deborah Carter (Vandora Springs Elementary School) and Kathleen Ramsdell (Creech Road Elementary School) were among the recipients of Operation Lamb grants.
Ramsdell, who teaches children with severe disabilities, said the extra funds will be used for field trips and other classroom needs.
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“The Knights of Columbus Operation Lamb Program has been instrumental in making sure our students are able to take field trips into the community every year,” Ramsdell said. “Their funding also assists us in keeping up-to-date communication devices in our classroom that serves students who are nonverbal. These devices are instrumental in instructing our students on ways they can communicate with those around them, to make choices, answer questions and access their educational environment.
“I have taught in the Garner area for eight years and have been lucky enough to receive funding from their dedication and hard work each of those eight years. We are so grateful for the efforts they make to support our students.“
According to John Cavallaro, coordinator of the 2016 Operation Lamb program, the grants to local teachers began in 1994 and have totaled more than $130,000 to the local schools, including Vandora Springs, Rand Road, Creech Road and Aversboro Elementary as well as East Garner Middle School and Garner Senior Magnet High School.
McIntosh said she also plans to use her grant funds for field trips. “We have not used the funds yet but plan to in the upcoming school year to go on field trips that have not been been an option in the past,” she said. “We will also purchase items for the classroom that a student specific once we identify specific needs.”
Carter, who teaches children with mild level disabilities at Vandora Springs Elementary, said she plans to use the grant funds for classroom materials.
“The Knights of Columbus funds helped to purchase instructional supplies for our children,” she said. “Last year, with their help, we were able to purchase Kindle Fire tablets for our classroom.”
Cavallaro said the Operation Lamb program was started “to help the teachers of disabled children offset the tremendous cost of running their classrooms. The money supplied by the school district does not supply all the needs of special children.”
Statewide, Operation Lamp programs “has provided millions of dollars to these teachers,” Cavallaro said.
The Father James Keenan Knights of Columbus Council 11266 received its charter on March 9, 1994, and Operation Lamb, which is a national Knights of Columbus charity program, began soon after. Funds are raised by Knights volunteers, who collect donations outside of local businesses. You may have seen them, wearing yellow vests denoting the Operation Lamb program. Knights volunteers hand out free Tootsie Rolls and ask for donations to the program. All of the funds stay local, and the only external cost is for the purchase of the Tootsie Rolls, Cavallaro said.