By: Kelly Karbowicz Riley, IPS Foundation
With education shifting from the classroom to the home, there’s renewed appreciation, admiration, and gratitude for teachers not only in our city of Indianapolis, but around the world. Educators often go the extra mile for their communities, and this time is no different as they provide courageous leadership and compassion to students, families, and staff–from checking in through phone calls and virtual classroom meetings to providing “porch drops” for additional groceries and supplies.
Teachers and school leaders are the backbones of our schools–they’re the most important advocates in determining student success and the most knowledgeable about the unique needs of individual students and school communities. Our greatest need is ensuring equitable access to learning opportunities for all 32,000 students, and Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) teachers have been working tirelessly to support this effort.
We at the IPS Foundation are continually inspired by these incredible school and classroom leaders. And we’re proud to support their efforts in going above and beyond for students and families through this time. The newly-launched IPS Education Equity Fund is designed to complement local relief efforts and support our teachers’ and students’ needs within three key areas: rapid response, e-learning, and recovery and return.
IPS teachers are truly leading the way in these key areas, putting students and families first. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I’d like to share and celebrate the inspiring work of the teachers we have the pleasure of working with.
Rapid Response: The needs of our students and families have quickly evolved and our teachers have not missed a beat, springing into action across the city! Teachers at Daniel Webster School #46 are working alongside their principal to identify students without access to additional books now that our public libraries are closed. Together, they are utilizing a micro-grant from the IPS Foundation to purchase books that will be shipped directly to students. These teachers are including handwritten, heartwarming notes of encouragement to supplement their students’ home-learning experience.
e-Learning: The digital divide between students who have access to devices and reliable internet and those who don’t exacerbates the achievement gap during this time of school closures. Foundation funding was quickly deployed to meet an urgent need–ensuring students have access to online learning. Teachers were many of the first volunteers to sign up for several days of packing computers and hotspots for our high school students. To date, IPS teachers, staff, and volunteers have packed and sent out nearly 4,000 Chromebooks and 750 hotspots to students and families needing access to reliable internet!
Recovery and Return: While the physical return to school is still uncertain, we do know for sure that students, staff, and their families are experiencing unprecedented social and emotional strain right now. The district team is moving quickly to prepare for the road ahead. One way that we’re collaborating with the district is to support secondary trauma training for teachers and staff–ensuring that our teachers are equipped and empowered to create and maintain the best learning environment possible for all students. Jadine Laniado, Social and Emotional Learning Teacher at Francis W. Parker School #56, is one of the co-facilitators for the training. Jadine helps her peers learn skills–from meditation and breathing practices to stress and anxiety responses–to utilize immediately in their own lives and school communities.
“The opportunity to become trained and certified in secondary trauma training and to now facilitate groups with my peers has been amazing! It’s critical for us as educators to take time to self-assess and adjust so that we can be the best leaders we can for our students. We are the thermostat for the classrooms and need to be the calming source for students to feel safe and confident to learn.” – Jadine Laniado, SEL Teacher at Francis Parker School #5
Our teachers constantly amaze us and we can’t thank them enough for their continued dedication and hard work. During Teacher Appreciation Week, I encourage you to find ways to thank your favorite teachers–maybe it’s an email, a video message, or making a contribution to your school’s foundation in their honor. Our team is so grateful for our donors and corporate partners who are helping increase resources for teachers and school leaders at IPS.
Salesforce invites all teachers to join us for a guided meditation at our upcoming B-Well Together wellbeing breaks on Friday, May 8th. We appreciate all you do to ensure our students are Future Ready.
Learn how schools and districts nationwide are supporting teachers, students, families, and staff during this critical time.
About the Author
Kelly Karbowicz Riley
Kelly has been with the IPS Foundation since 2018, where she manages grant development, district event sponsorships, marketing and communications, and the annual fund. Since joining the team she has helped the district secure funding for various programs like professional development, postsecondary readiness, and secondary trauma training for teachers. Prior to joining the Foundation team, she worked in various fundraising and community engagement roles in the non-profit sector and as a resource development consultant. She is grateful to be part of a passionate team that is relentless in their pursuit of equitable access to high-quality education for ALL students.