SMAMS teacher receives McDonald's 'MAC' grant

Julie Newton, a seventh and eighth grade math teacher at St. Marys Area Middle School (SMAMS), is presented with a $500 McDonald's MAC grant by Linda Hoffman, right, owner of the St. Marys McDonald's on Wednesday morning. The MAC, or Making Activities Count grant is made available through the Johnstown co-op, a collection of 42 McDonald's franchises in the area. The grant aims to assist middle school teachers in augmenting their curriculum and providing additional learning tools to their students. In years past, SMAMS teachers have used MAC grants to fund the purchase of Promethium, or SMART Boards, for classrooms, the founding of a fish hatchery, and introduction of various other projects on campus and supplemental classroom aides. Newton, who has been teaching for 19 years, 17 of those at SMAMS, was awarded the grant in response to a letter she had written the co-op. Newton submitted a proposal for the purchase of board games, when just before summer recess last year, she presented board games for the class to play as a reward for students following their final exams. "It was at the end of the school year last year, when normally showing a video or playing some games after they've taken their finals was considered a treat and the kids looked forward to that. We had some board games and the kids had asked me, 'Is it spelled b-o-r-e-d because these games were boring?,' 'bored' games because they weren't keeping their attention. When I saw the grant, I said, 'I will take your $500 and I will buy $500 worth of board games and have these students realize the importance of these games and the concentration factor,'" Newton said. Newton hopes that in the age of video games, social media, and instant gratifications, the board games will help the kids exercise problem solving and improve academic and social skills.