Brooks Middle School Awarded IEA Grant for School Garden Project

The Illinois Education Association Foundation is proud to announce that it has awarded a $1,000 grant to the EcoEagles’ International Bird Hotel of the Oak Park Teachers' Association.

Brooks Middle School teacher Stephanie Suerth applied for the grant as part of the IEA Foundation’s Schools and Community Outreach by Educators program, which is a grant program designed to give educators money for a service project.

The grant will be used for the construction of an International Bird Hotel at Brooks as part of the community and school garden, scheduled for the Summer and Fall of 2020. The idea is the brainchild of Suerth’s colleagues and fellow teachers—Laura Stamp, Meaghan Pabellon, and Kristiana Murray—to combat the decline of birds due to human impact, to inspire young people, and to educate the community about actions that can improve our environment. While the educators support the cause, it is the students who will take the lead by fundraising, designing, and ultimately building the International Bird Hotel. 

“I knew IEA would support my colleagues, our students, and the community,” Suerth said. “Once I knew what was needed, all I had to do was ask. It’s truly a blessing to know we, as educators, can support our students in their passions and show the community that we’re always here above and beyond what we’re contracted because we care about our students and the community we work in above and beyond the contractual school day.”

More than 300 grants have been awarded since 2013 to educators’ projects across the state. Educators’ ideas for projects were creative, varied and were based both inside and outside schools. All of them benefitted students, students’ families and the community.

“We’re thrilled another year of this wonderful program resulted in a range of ideas submitted by our members and we are so pleased with such creative effort,” said IEA President Kathi Griffin.

“We know that our educators are in the schools every day giving 100 percent, but there are unmet needs as well. So many of them wanted to do more. It’s in their nature. We were glad to help them make their ideas come to fruition.”

The IEA represents 135,000 members, including teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff, retired educators and students planning to become teachers.