Stories from the Field

Lessons Learned: Grantee Mary Ann Giasson hooks students with SciFi

Lessons Learned: Grantee Mary Ann Giasson hooks students with SciFi

Tell us about your plans for your NEA Foundation grant project.

The NEA Foundation grant has been used to fund our “March Community Read.” This event allowed us to put Rick Yancey’s novel, “The 5th Wave” into the hands of our students and encourage them to read for pleasure. We had four local authors volunteer their time to have lunch with our students. We are hoping to use the remaining grant money to add a few more titles to our stacks, including the sequel to this year’s chosen novel.

How do you think your NEA Foundation grant project will help your students?

The NEA Foundation grant helped us put books into the hands of students who had never owned their own book. I also saw students who are not usually readers, walking around with a copy of “The 5th Wave.” This project brings together not only our school but our community as well through various activities and events. This year, we were able to partner with the city’s library for a few activities.

Why did you start teaching?

I wanted to be a teacher since the first grade. I think the biggest reason I wanted to be a teacher is because of all the positive role models I had as a student. I also wanted to share my love of literature and writing.

What is your passion— in or outside the classroom?

I have three passions that serve me well inside and outside the classroom. I love to read. I am usually juggling at least two books at a time and run a book group at school and in my community. I love to write. I co-facilitate a writing club at school and belong to a writing group in my community. I also have a passion for community theater. I have done everything from running lights to directing, and have recently joined the Waldo Theatre’s board of directors.

Describe an “a-ha” moment, when you or your students (or both) have experienced a transformation in your thinking or learning.

I think the most important “a-ha” moment that some of our students had during this project is when they realized that reading can be fun and doesn’t have to be about analyzing everything in the novel. The satisfying part comes when they come into the library asking for the next book in the series and you know you’ve hooked them. Hopefully, for life.

Featured NEA Foundation grantee Mary Ann Giasson is a tenth through twelfth grade para-educator at Oceanside High School in Rockland, ME. Find more information about how to apply for grant funding and how to support this grant program. The next deadline for application is June 1, 2014.

Photo courtesy of flickr user Enokson