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BOYCEVILLE — Little did second-year Tiffany Creek Elementary educator Bryor Hellmann know that a grant he applied for this past summer through the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), an organization that represents public education employees throughout the state, would prompt a visit from its president, Ron Martin.
In search of any kind of picture books for his classroom, Hellmann contacted WEAC and applied for a grant to see if they could help in his quest.
“I had no picture books in my classroom,” said Hellmann. “So I contacted the WEAC for help. They said they were willing to provide me with the picture books.”
Hellmann said that he picked out and received 45 new picture books with which to stock his classroom reading shelves.
The books cover a variety of cultures and reading levels and include fairy tales, non-fiction and Newbery Award-Winning pieces.
Hellmann acknowledged that the grant of new books was a valued addition to his classroom and teaching efforts.
“I do a 40-book project with my fourth graders,” stated Hellmann.
“Each student reads a variety of 40 books from different genres over the course of the school year and then each student writes a reflection on the books, the connections those books have made with themselves and throughout the world.”
Hellmann did say that WEAC president Ron Martin had offered to bring the books to his classroom when he was in the area. While Hellmann appreciated the generous offer, he told the association that he really needed the books before the start of the school year.
And although Hellmann’s new classroom picture books were not hand-delivered by Martin, the head of WEAC still found time to stop by and talk with Hellmann’s students last Wednesday afternoon, September 11.
Martin, who is the first Native American to lead Wisconsin’s largest union of educators, spent nearly an hour in Hellmann’s fourth grade class at Tiffany Creek Elementary. He spoke to the students about his heritage, regaling them with a unique Native American Tale on the creation of land and answering students’ questions.
Martin told students that he grew up on the Bad River Reservation in Northern Wisconsin located between Ashland and Hurley. And that he is a member of the Anishinaabe, which loosely translates to “First People”.
Martin was a social studies teacher in the Eau Claire district for 20 years, primarily in the seventh and eighth grades, but also worked in the alternative high school/off-campus program.