Oklahoma Baptist University

Alum Receives Community Engagement Grant

Jenny Affentranger is one of 25 principals selected from across the nation to receive grants in the 2010 Sharing the Dream initiative. Affentranger has been awarded $5,000 for her school to strengthen parent and community engagement.

Jenny Affentranger, who serves as lower elementary principal for Bethel Schools in Bethel Acres, Okla., is one of 25 principals selected by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Foundation and MetLife Foundation to receive grants in the 2010 Sharing the Dream initiative, which helps principals build closer relationships between schools and communities. The winning principals from across the nation have each been awarded $5,000 for their schools to strengthen parent and community engagement and to create opportunities for students to gain the global perspective necessary for success in the 21st century.

Affentranger is a 2001 alum of OBU, earning a bachelor’s degree in early elementary education. Earlier this year, she was selected to serve on a 12-person committee for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Her committee is responsible for revising the contents of the standards for Literacy: Reading-Language Arts. This job requires her to attend a total of five meetings in Washington, D.C.

“I have four teachers (Emily Carpenter, Shawna Keene, Tracie Wade and Maria Wright) who have volunteered to write grants for our site with me. Their input and ideas are invaluable,” Affentranger said. “Our $5,000 will be spent on seven laptops, a wireless router, and a cart for storage and transportation. The laptop center will be available to first- and second-grade teachers to use for differentiated instruction in mathematics and exposure to other cultures. Teachers want to Skype with students from a school in Nikaho, Japan (Shawnee’s Sister City) if possible. They also want to increase the time students can spend on mathematics computer programs, such as Destination Math and Math Facts in a Flash.”

New for 2010-11, Sharing the Dream grantees are defining community in broader ways that can build global awareness. The schools are connecting students from different cultures; engaging diverse families; forging lasting partnerships with immigrant communities, arts organizations, and businesses; exploring world languages; and addressing “global competence” in teaching and learning.

“Sharing the Dream grants encourage the innovative development of learning communities that is the hallmark of effective principal leadership,” said NAESP Foundation CEO Ernest J. Mannino. “We are excited to be able to directly impact the important work that principals do to enhance communication and build capacity within school communities.”

This year’s grant-winning principals were carefully selected for the distinctive, but practical, programs they created to improve communications within their communities and better prepare students to succeed in a global environment. Recipient schools represent rural, urban, small, and large, elementary and middle schools. Awards were based on need, the creativity of the plan, and the commitment to program evaluation.

“We are pleased to join with NAESP in encouraging school leaders committed to engaging their communities and in supporting collaboration to increase student knowledge of the world,” said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation.

The Sharing the Dream initiative began in 2003 when the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher revealed a significant disconnect between the ways in which principals and other members of the school community view their schools and relationships with one another.

In addition to the grant awards, winners are receiving copies of “Ready for the World: Preparing Elementary Students for the Global Age,” a publication of the Asia Society’s Partnership for Global Learning, also supported by MetLife Foundation.

To view the list of 2010 Sharing the Dream grant recipients, click here.

Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) serves elementary and middle school principals in the United States, Canada, and overseas. NAESP leads in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle-level principals and other education leaders in their commitment to all children. The NAESP Foundation, founded in 1982, is the charitable arm of NAESP and is dedicated to securing and stewarding private gifts and grants that benefit the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, click here.

MetLife Foundation supports education, health, civic and cultural organizations. In education, it seeks to strengthen public schools through effective teaching and leadership, and to prepare students for access to and success in higher education, particularly the crucial first year. The Foundation’s grant-making is informed by findings from the annual “MetLife Survey of the American Teacher.” For more information, click here.

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