Two elementary school teachers in the Socorro Independent School District were awarded the My Kool Smiles Classroom Grant for going above and beyond to promote dental health education in the classroom.
Arleen Parada, a kindergarten teacher at Lujan-Chavez Elementary, and Crystal Leyva, a first-grade teacher at Elfida P. Chavez Elementary, were among five elementary educators in the nation to earn the $1,000 grant by the children’s dental health provider Kool Smiles and the Benevis Foundation.
Parada and Leyva won the award for their original, creative and engaging lesson plans that endorse good dental health practices.
“I used videos and engagement activities to demonstrate how they need to care for their teeth,” Leyva said. “We also created bar graphs to show how many teeth students have lost each month.”
The educators said teaching dental hygiene is vital for student’s health and their success, and is an important part of caring for the whole child in Team SISD.
“We are not just teaching our students academics, we teach them life lessons,” Parada said. “Simple things like being kind to one another, and how to brush their teeth…all these things are important.”
The two teachers were surprised by Kool Smiles representatives who visited the schools to award the grant to purchase classroom supplies.
“I’m very excited that we have two schools from El Paso win this award,” said Veronica Peña, Kool Smiles office manager in East El Paso. “This is a big achievement!”
The students and teachers were treated to oral health care products, a pizza party and Bahama Bucks snow cones.
“My teacher tells us to brush our teeth and floss every day,” said Elijah Chacon, a first grader at Elfida P. Chavez. “You get cavities if you eat a lot of junk so I don’t eat junk because my teeth might go bad. If you don’t have teeth you can’t eat chicken.”
The five teachers who won the award were more than deserving for their excellent work in the classroom, according to Kool Smiles and the Benevis Foundation.
“We hope that this program will inspire other teachers to make dental health lessons a priority in classroom curriculum to help students adopt good dental habits early on in life,” said Dr. Dale Mayfield, chief dental officer for Kool Smiles in a press release.