Columbia Public School teachers awarded with Links to Learning Grants

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COLUMBIA - Assistance League Mid-Missouri is helping some Columbia Public School teachers celebrate World Teacher Appreciation day with a huge check.  

A check worth more than $98 thousand to be exact. 

It's part of the Links to Learning program. Links to Learning provides funding for programs designed and implemented by Columbia Public School teachers. Teachers design a program specifically for their school or classroom and then apply for the grant. 

Assistance League Mid Missouri funds programs like Links to Learning through its Upscale Resale shop. 

"This is our main source of money. It is strictly donation so it comes in the door, we go through it, price it, put it back on the floor and sell it," Carol Hurt Assistance League Mid Missouri member said.  

All the money goes back into the Columbia community for special projects like Links to Learning. 

This year 187 grants will be awarded to selected schools through the Links to Learning program. Representatives for the program will surprise selected teachers starting Wednesday through October 10. 

Linda Lowenberg was one of the first teachers to be awarded a grant during the first year of the program. She was a Media Specialist in Columbia Public Schools until 2004. 

"The Links to Learning Program made funds available to classroom teachers that they wouldn't b e able to get through the normal school budget process," Lowenberg said. 

Lowenberg designed a program to enable students to take home books on tape. 

"A lot of our students came from working parents who don't have time to read to their kids at night and we wanted to promote the idea of reading outside the classroom," Lowenberg said. 

Lowenberg remembered when Links to Learning presented her with the check. 

"I was so excited because no one in our school had ever gotten a grant like this before. I cried," Lowenberg said. "It was so wonderful because I got to do more with our program to promote reading and to promote reading outside of the school day, and to do something that went above in beyond what you can normally do in the classroom." 

Hurt said it is a rewarding feeling to know the money raised at the Upscale Resale shop goes back into the Columbia community.