Wilsonville Elementary teacher steps up to the task

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

“It’s easy for most of us to take for granted what it takes to button a shirt or screw a lid onto a bottle. For the kids I work with, those things we don’t even think about are a little harder to learn.”

Those are the words of Dana Nave, whose students go to Wilsonville Elementary. Nave is a 17-year teaching veteran and has been at Wilsonville Elementary for the last three of those years.

Nave’s students have a broad range of abilities and ages. She works with kids in kindergarten all the way up to fifth grade. This requires many different approaches and tools to meet so many different needs in special education.

Early in the school year, she learned of a very special curriculum through a colleague at the Linda Nolan Learning Center that was perfect for the challenges some of her students face. The curriculum, however, came with a hefty price tag that wasn’t in the budget she had to work with.

This manipulative-based program helps kids with fine motor challenges learn to do the basic finger movements and more that we take for granted every day. The various sets can range in price from roughly $150 to $500, so acquiring them can be quite the task. Like Nave, many teachers have to go the extra mile to find funds for upgrading their teaching tools and special curriculums.

Inspired to provide her students with the best, Nave began looking for grants that could help her acquire the sets she needed and managed to win enough grant money to purchase the first level of three different manipulative-based modules that could help her students called ShoeBox Tasks. These sturdy shoebox-sized activity blocks will offer many different kinds of challenges the kids will have time to master and move on from, but they will also be a permanent part of her classroom for years to come because of their quality.

The next phase of help came through a simple conversation. Julie Ellis, friend and fellow churchgoer of Nave’s at Columbiana United Methodist Church, listened to Nave’s passion for her students one Sunday and shared the teacher’s endeavors with her husband, state Rep. Corley Ellis. After hearing about what she was doing, Ellis realized he had the means to help her with part of the project by securing her a small grant from the state that helped her purchase the second module of the curriculum she’d been trying to acquire.

The Ellises were able to visit the school and present Nave with the check for her project. “Dana is doing great things with those wonderful kids, and it humbled Julie and me to be able to visit with them and help them out,” he said.

So that leaves one last module to obtain. Nave is currently seeking the means to complete the full set of curriculum for her students by raising just over $300. If you would like to contribute to the cause, you can reach out to her or principal Melody Byrne at Wilsonville Elementary School by calling (205) 682-6640.