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Maggie & Amos Foundation awards grants

The world only got to know Amos Patrick Meyer for three years, but in the three years since his tragic passing, and that of his mother Maggie Rosko Meyer, their memories live on with unique and creative opportunities to educate local children.

The Maggie & Amos Foundation was incorporated with the goal of memorializing the lives of the mother and son who died Oct. 19, 2016 following a fire at their Byron home which investigators say was intentionally set.

Maggie’s ex-husband and Amos’ father, Duane Meyer, 37, of Stillman Valley, has been charged with their murders and aggravated arson. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Classroom grants were presented Tuesday to 12 teachers in a ceremony at the Chana Education Center for the foundation’s 2019 endeavor.

Meyer was a middle school teacher at Chana. Her boss, assistant principal Lynn Kalnins, helped spearhead the organization of the foundation after her death.

“One of the purposes of the foundation is to be able to share her legacy of helping others and supporting the community, which was a very valuable project for her,” Kalnins said. “She was a wonderful teacher, she was fun to work with, and was always very creative and innovative.”

To date, the foundation has awarded $24,538.36 in grants for classroom teachers, Northern Illinois University scholarships and donations for books, supplies and learning materials in libraries in Mount Morris and Rochelle. Money comes from donations and the foundation’s annual Infinity Run, which will be on April 25 at the Chana school.

This year, $5,394.75 was awarded among the 12 recipients, a $1,500 scholarship was given, $810.62 was awarded to the Mt. Morris library, and $1,035.51 to the Rochelle library.

Faith Christian School in Grand Detour was a benefactor of two grants to help with the formation of an outdoor classroom project. Teachers Jody Rozanas and Brittany Schultz plan to build apparatus with PVC pipes and other gadgets to take learning away from four walls.

One idea of Rozanas’ is to create colorful daisy chalkboards, and have students make the chalk that goes with it.

“We intend to use them for all sorts of things,” Rozanas said, “not just for drawing, but for math problems as well.”

Schultz, who teaches music, hopes to buy a panel of fencing to prop up their very own musical instruments, one that also has plenty of containers that create all kinds of sounds.

“We’re excited because not only is that an advantage for a music teacher like myself, but we can discuss the science of sound,” she said.

Amy Tomlinson, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Oregon Elementary, plans to use her money to create a safe and cozy learning area for her students. Creating better learning environments also were the missions of Nikki Smith of Aplington Middle School in Polo, and Elizabeth Zinke of Amboy High School.

Carisa Swanson’s class at Centennial Elementary in Polo will benefit from additional science and engineering tools, and Emily Majewski’s second grade class will find it easier to learn about nonfiction books, fables and folk tales with about 100 new books.

Grants also were awarded to five teachers in Rochelle schools.

The Mt. Morris library has utilized $2,704.43 in money granted in the last three years for board games, children’s activities, bean bag chairs for children’s section, golf clubs for the library’s miniature golf fundraiser, and a Lego robotics kit that has become very popular with the children, library director Mary Cheatwood said.

The library will have a family night on Nov. 13 at David L. Rahn Junior High School, which will feature a magician. It was requested instead of materials by the library to encourage community gathering, Kalnins said.

A picture of Amos hangs on a wall in the children’s section.

“They’ve been very generous with us,” Cheatwood said. “There has been a lot of use from the things that have been given. The kids have benefited quite a bit from what they’ve given us.

“The whole thing is done on love.”