Teacher earns grant


First Posted: 1/14/2015

LIMA — It’s hard for Mrs. Guyer’s class to decide which book is their favorite.

There’s body books and space books, pirate books and experiment books, spooky books and chapter books, jingle books and picture books.

With so many options, it’s impossible to just pick one.

As head of the classroom, Deb Guyer’s favorite is a book with flaps exposing the inside of famous buildings. Even though her classroom in Shawnee Middle School is small, its pages take Guyer’s students all over the world depicting the Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and Great Pyramids.

The ability to see and explore mysterious worlds wasn’t always as simple as a walk to the bookcase, however. For a while, Guyer was without a classroom library for her students with varying learning disabilities. A lot of times, Guyer said it’s difficult for special education teachers to get the supplies they need, especially since their students have a range of abilities. In her classroom of eight, reading levels extend from kindergarten to fourth grade.

“I’ve taught for 15 years, and it’s my passion,” Guyer said. “I love to be able to help them and to see the small steps that they take, which are huge milestones in their life.”

Chris Shepard, a consultant from Independent Educational, shares a similar zest for education. Connected to Guyer by a colleague, the duo teamed up to apply for the Lifetime Literacy Grant. If received, the grant matches half of outside donations made to an organization to help buy books.

After raising $450 on her own, Guyer and the class became first-time grant recipients in December, adding $225 to their book-buying budget.

In the past, nearby organizations have received the renewable grant multiple times, including Lima Public Library. But, this time is special, Shepard said.

“Mrs. Guyer and her students were able to personally select books that would work well for her kids,” Shepard said. “It all came together so beautifully.”

Because of the grant, Guyer and her students ordered 34 books. They plan to expand the collection in the future. But for now, they’ll focus on their next experiment, uncovering how and why things float.

“It’s not just about a book grant,” Guyer said. “It’s about furthering their literacy and love of reading. That’s the main goal, and my kids just love to read.”

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