20 Nov

TRTF Making a Difference: Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson’s favorite moments as a teacher come when a student succeeds in an unexpected way. She refers to these as the “little accomplishments,” and she sees them every day. Wilson is a teacher at Georgetown’s Jack Frost Elementary. She works with pre-kindergarten students who have disabilities, and she’s been helping special education students for 15 years.

Among the new skills the students learn while working with Wilson is how to move their bodies. Specifically, the students learn how to use their gross motor muscles like their arms and legs.

Wilson uses a wide variety of games and toys to teach the students. However, many of these toys can be expensive, and moving them from one place to another can be cumbersome.

“Last year, we were doing our gross motor stations as a whole group in the cafeteria,” Wilson said. “But with construction at our school and just different schedules this year, we aren’t able to go all to the cafeteria. So, we wanted a way to transport, originally, all of our things to the cafeteria easily.”

The Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) was able to assist Wilson in her pursuit of simplifying this process. Wilson obtained a $500 Classroom Assistance Grant from TRTF, which she used to purchase a gross motor cart as well as bouncy-balls, a ring toss set, a hop-scotch game and a Velcro ball catching game.

Wilson has seen the children fall in love with the new toys, and sees the toys as an opportunity to improve the children’s long-term prospects in education.

“Gross motor games are just fun,” she said. “Research has shown that gross motor abilities are very strongly linked to academic abilities later in life.”

Wilson believes people should donate to issues that are most important for them, and for her, that is early childhood education.

“I feel like the earlier we can get these kids working on their skills and building them up, the more successful in their lives they are going to be,” Wilson said.

Donate to help more teachers like Sarah Wilson through TRTF’s Classroom Assistance Grants programDonate here today!

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Thank you for donating to TRTF! Your contributions truly help change lives!

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16 Nov

Governor Names New Trustees to TRS Board

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, Governor Greg Abbott announced the names of the three new trustees who will fill open positions on the Board of Trustees for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).

Governor Abbott has appointed Jarvis V. Hollingsworth, James “Dick” Nance, and Nanette Sissney to the TRS Board of Trustees for terms set to expire August 31, 2023. Additionally, the Governor named Hollingsworth chair of the board, replacing current chair David Kelly, who has served since 2007. Additional information about other trustees serving on the board can be found by clicking here.

The following information appears in a news release made available by the Governor’s office:

  • Jarvis V. Hollingsworth of Missouri City is a partner and member of the Management Committee of the law firm of Bracewell LLP. He is a former regent of the University of Houston System, where he served in many capacities, including chairman of the Board of Regents. He is a former trustee of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, where he served in many capacities, including as chairman of the Board. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Houston Bar Association, State Bar of Texas Foundation, and the State Bar of Texas and previously served on its Board of Directors. Additionally, he is former treasurer of the Houston Bar Foundation and a member of the United Way of Greater Houston’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society. Hollingsworth received a Bachelor of Science from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and served for several years on active and reserve duty in the United States Army. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Houston.
  • James “Dick” Nance of Hallettsville is retired from Pasadena ISD after 35 years of service. He is a former member of the Texas Athletic Directors Association, Greater Houston Football Coaches Association, and the Texas High School Coaches Association. Additionally, he is president of the District III Texas Retired Teachers Association and former president of Pasadena South Rotary Club and Lavaca County Retired Teachers Association. He is former secretary of the Hallettsville ISD Education Foundation and a former member of the Hallettsville Lions Club and the Hallettsville ISD Strategic Planning Committee. Nance received a Bachelor of Science in education, a mid-management certificate, and a Master of Education from the University of Houston.
  • Nanette Sissney is a school counselor and former high school teacher with Whitesboro ISD. She is former state president of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association and former member of the National Council on Teacher Retirement. Additionally, she is a volunteer for Christmas Angel Tree and Ministerial Alliance and chair of Whitesboro Santa’s Breakfast. Sissney received a Bachelor of Arts from Texas Woman’s University and a Master of Education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.”

James “Dick” Nance is a member of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) and the Lavaca County RTA local unit, where he serves currently as Immediate Past President. He will fill the position left vacant after the passing of beloved TRTA member and friend Anita Smith Palmer, who passed away in January of 2017. Nance was appointed by the Governor from three retired member candidates who were nominated by retired TRS members.

The Board of Trustees of TRS, the trustee of all plan assets, is responsible for the general administration and operation of TRS, and is authorized by law to adopt rules for the administration of TRS and the transaction of the business of the Board.

Congratulations to all who were named to the TRS Board! TRTA is looking forward to continuing our positive work with the TRS Board of Trustees. The next meeting of the TRS Board of Trustees will be held on December 14 and 15 in Austin, Texas.

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The Inside Line is a free service of TRTA, provided to you to keep you informed on current issues and events that impact your life.  If you value this service, please consider becoming a member of TRTA by clicking here. If you are already a member, thank you!

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13 Nov

TRTF Making a Difference: Matt Stricklen

Matt Stricklen has been teaching at Akins High School in Austin, Texas for three years. His newest project is the most ambitious any of his students have undertaken, and it’s an opportunity for the students to learn about the power of ingenuity and collaboration.

Stricklen is teaching his students to build an augmented reality sandbox. The project may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it instead refers to a teaching tool students are using to learn about topography, the study of the shape and features on the surface of the Earth.

Stricklen’s sandbox works as such: a topographic map is projected onto a box full of sand, and the shapes and colors change as students move the sand within the box. The changing colors and shapes represents the elevation of the sand relative to the map’s projected surface.

In order to pursue the project, Stricklen required additional funds to purchase the projector and a graphics card to display the topography. He received a $500 Classroom Assistance Grant from the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF).

“The grant money served as the seed money for the project,” Stricklen said. “It really gave me the confidence that we could bring it to fruition.”

Stricklen’s class completed the project just in time to present it at the University of Texas’ science fair, “Hot Science, Cool Takes,” on April 28, 2017. After setting up, a crowd started to form around the sandbox, and the students turned the lights off to see the augmented reality system working as intended.

“Sometimes the kids were skeptical that we could pull it off,” Stricklen said. “It’s been interesting to see their skepticism give way to a real belief that they can get it done.”

Stricklen believes that the project will be an excellent showcase for students’ college applications.

“It’s fairly rare that students will get to show off work of this magnitude,” he said.

Show your support for public education projects like Stricklen’s by donating to TRTF today! You can donate here. Learn more about classroom assistance grants and other TRTF charitable programs here.

Thank You

Thank you for donating to TRTF! Your contributions truly help change lives!

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