George R. Hanaford Elementary School in East Greenwich will soon be publishing its own student newspaper, thanks to a grant awarded to school librarian Beth Gorter.
In June, the East Greenwich Education Foundation awarded $36,000 in grants to teachers in three of the town’s schools.
Hanaford Elementary received a joint grant for Kimberly Bose’s Language Laboratory program and for Gorter’s student newspaper.
“I’m excited about the grant and the newspaper,” Gorter said. “It’s a pet project for me. The project is allowing me to have the best of both worlds, and the kids are very excited.”
Gorter graduated from the University of Rhode Island with an undergraduate degree in journalism, and worked as a reporter and an editor for local newspapers before she received her master’s degree in Library and Information Science.
To start, the newspaper will be a before-school extracurricular activity, Gorter said, but she hopes it can be integrated into many aspects of the school day.
With the Common Core curricula’s increased emphasis on nonfiction, Gorter said the newspaper will compliment it.
“We’re trying to incorporate all types of nonfiction,” she said. “Not just books about animals or space, but magazines, journals and newspapers.”
Gorter said she hopes that by the time this year’s third-graders are in fifth grade, it will be completely student driven with her working in an advisory role.
“I’ll be working with the kids on changing their thinking slightly,” she said. “They are so used to writing to entertain specifically, rather than writing to inform. It’s going to be a challenge for me as much as it will be for them.”
Currently, Gorter is working to “hire” about 10 fifth-graders who will serve as the paper’s first editors. She will work with them to establish a vision for the newspaper and then work on recruiting students from Hanaford’s three grade levels.
“So far there has been tremendous interest, especially from the fifth-graders,” she said.
She hopes that students in different classes and grade levels will generate content that is exciting and interesting to them whether it is field trips, student council or band news, she said.
Gorter said she hopes the newspaper will eventually publish once per academic quarter. She doesn’t know if there will be a print version, or if it will be an online publication. The school has just received an iPad cart and Gorter said she plans to help train students on page and content creation on the devices.
According to its website, the East Greenwich Education Foundation provides grants to East Greenwich public school teachers to fund creative, innovative and sustainable initiatives in the classroom.
Other teachers to receive grants were Renee Hadfield and Kara Ratigan at James H. Eldredge Elementary School for their Technical Assisted Reading program; Christine Marcotte at Eldredge Elementary for her Estuarine Classroom focusing on Narragansett Bay; and Adam Scott at Archie R. Cole Middle School for his project, Extensions in Science.