Originally Published: December 3, 2017 5:54 a.m.
Two teachers at Lincoln Elementary played tug-of-war with emotions on Friday morning as the Prescott Education Foundation and district leaders serenaded them with drum rolls, balloons and a big fat check.
And so did teachers at Taylor Hicks Elementary, Abia Judd Elementary, and Prescott High School.
All told, the foundation awarded just under $22,000 in grants to seven teachers at these four schools.
The smallest grant was for just under $820 to buy engineering kits from the Boston Museum of Arts that will allow a classroom of second-graders to build their own windmills. The largest grant was for just under $14,000 to buy equipment for a new college-preparatory engineering course that will offer a hands-on project curriculum.
Foundation grant application coordinator and parent Brandi Jex was beyond delighted with this latest round of grant funds as they demonstrate the intent of the foundation formed in January 2015. The foundation’s goal is to supplement what the district offers by raising donor dollars to support innovative programs and technology the district might otherwise be unable to afford.
The District Governing Board offered its approval for the new high school engineering course, and the foundation is able to supply the funds to buy the equipment and supplies, including a three-dimensional printer, needed for the students to undertake projects in mechanical, chemical, electrical and civil engineering. The course will also offer opportunities for students to explore the latest technology in computer science.
“This is what we’ve dreamed of,” Jex said of helping fund a course that will take students to a new level of learning.
That $13,900 grant was awarded to science teacher Paul Bunnell who will oversee the new engineering course. In addition, Prescott High teachers Gary Gray was given almost $3,000 for wireless probes needed for chemistry experiments and Prescott High science teacher Michelle Ritzer was given $988 to buy spectrum tubes and power supplies to help students with forensic science investigations.
To distribute the grants, PUSD chartered a school bus and brought along the Prescott High School drum corps to fete the teachers who applied for grants awarded based on innovation and instructional foresight. Superintendent Joe Howard donned a Santa hat and held up the oversized checks so that students and faculty could visually appreciate the large dollar amounts awarded to improve their education.
At Lincoln, the kindergarten through fourth-graders lined up on either side of an outdoor corridor leading into the cafeteria to welcome their visitors and express appreciation for their efforts.
Inside the cafeteria, Principal Karen Hughes rallied the students into loud cheers of gratitude.
The grant winning teachers, Marianne Hamilton and Eileen Anderson, will use their $987 grant to purchase a one-year license for audio books intended to assist with reading intervention.
“Does anyone know why we’re here?” Howard asked students at the various schools. “We’re bringing you money … The purpose is to support you.”
Foundation President Krista Carman asked the students to go home and tell their parents about the celebration so they, too, will want to get involved with the foundation that is all about promoting more innovative programs to benefit every PUSD student.
In the first grant cycle, the foundation awarded $12,000 to nine teachers; last December they awarded $20,000 to teachers in three schools.
Above the background beat of the drums, Howard honored the foundation composed of parents, teachers and civic leaders as one of the reasons why PUSD is “awesome.”
Then he pointed to the children in the audience.
“Mostly, though, it’s you. You are awesome,” he said.
Prescott High School: Paul Bunnell: New engineering science course equipment and supplies - $13,900.
Prescott High School: Gary Gray: Probing science-dynamic experimentation: $2,962.69
Prescott High School: Michelle Ritzer: Atomic Spectra and Element Identification: $988.80
Lincoln Elementary: Marianne Hamilton and Eileen Anderson: Audio Books- Effective Reading Intervention: $987
Abia Judd Elementary, Taylor Hicks and Lincoln Elementary Schools: Karen Sampson: Hands on Hummingbird Robotics: $2,249.10
Taylor Hicks Elementary: Carolyn Farnsworth: Catching Wind- Designing Windmills: $819.59
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