Create Your Program with the End in Mind
By Don Peek

As we head into spring, you should begin to think about summer school and fall programs that can improve the educational experience of your students. I often talk about assessment and how to use your assessments to build better, more productive programs. It is important when you start to build a program to clearly picture that successful program in your mind. It is like the painter who pictures the final masterpiece before he ever puts paint to the canvas.

Your 3rd grade readers may be an average of a year behind national norms. The picture in your mind should be of your 3rd graders all scoring at least on grade level when they take their final assessment each spring. You then need to contemplate and picture the type of activities it will take to make sure that each student is reading at the proper level. You might picture small reading classes with each child getting individual attention from teachers, aides, or volunteers. You might picture students all reading hundreds of library books in the hour you give them each day to practice their reading.

Maybe during summer school you decide to attack the obesity problems of your intermediate students. You picture happier, slimmer students who have moved away from obesity and the bad habits that got them there. You see them exercising each day, eating good fruits and vegetables at school, and learning how to make good choices when it comes to their own nutrition and exercise programs. You visualize the people and the activities that will get you to that result.
You have to be able to picture the result of your program and the types of activities it will take to get your students to that end. Never let money get in your way when you are picturing your programs and results. If you can envision the positive conclusion of an exemplary program, you will be able to find the money to finance it in your regular budget or with grant funding – if you are determined to make it work.

Once you have made assessments and defined a problem, it is time to think and plan. Get clearly in your mind the results you want from the program. Visualize the activities it will take to get your students to that result. Build your budget to pay for the program. Once you have all that in place, go to your regular budget to see if there is money available to pay for the program. If there is not money available, go to a good grant database and begin to look for grant money to fund your program.

If you are absolutely determined to make positive changes in your school, you will get the money and the results you have visualized.

Don Peek is an expert in school funding. He has run The School Funding Center since 2001. Its database contains over 100,000 grants available to all types of schools in the United States. Don worked in education for 20 years as a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent before becoming the VP then the president of the training division of Renaissance Learning, developer of the Accelerated Reader.


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