Camping under the stars, authoring children’s books in a foreign language and taking part in archaeological excavations are just some of the experiences that await Whitfield County Schools students this year.
Those programs are among a group of 15 educational offerings that will receive grant funding from the Whitfield Education Foundation for the 2014-15 academic year.
Award recipients were announced Tuesday during a ceremony at the Whitfield County Schools central office. In total, more than $25,000 will be provided for grants applied for by teachers at 10 county schools.
“The teachers that have created these programs and applied for grants have gone above and beyond with their efforts,” said Joe Remillard, president of the Whitfield Education Foundation. “With the budget constraints that we have in this state, it is vital that private funds help with our local education. Improving education in this community is very important to (foundation members) on a personal level, and from the business community’s perspective it helps us grow our workforce and elevate performance. All of these innovative grants help put our school system ahead of others.”
The grants will provide for programs that benefit student learning in reading, math, science, social studies and other subjects.
Valley Point Elementary teacher Lyn Douglas put forth a program that pairs exercise with math.
“With the program ‘I Love Math’ we are going to purchase heart rate monitors and watches. Children will go to the gym and learn how the heart works — they’ll find a resting heart rate and learn how different exercises affect it — then take that data back to the classroom and do various math projects,” she said. “We are very excited about it.”
At Pleasant Grove Elementary, Amy Hurlock-Zock plans to have students get hands-on — and get hands dirty.
“(The grant money) will certainly help us build an archaeological dig site behind the building. It will help us build students’ knowledge in history and science,” she said. “We will do reporting, drawing and categorizing of our finds. We are really excited about the contributions we can make.”
Valley Point Middle School teacher Neil Nichols said he’ll take the school curriculum outdoors.
During organized camping trips, students will “not only talk about the safety aspects of camping — building fires and things like that — but learn other subjects such as science, social studies and language arts by tying them into the experience,” he said.
French students at Coahulla Creek High School will become amateur authors.
“My students will be creating original children’s books in French,” said teacher Josh Millican. “Two sets of books will be printed, one set to serve as a teaching tool in the classroom, the other will be donated to help build a children’s library in South Africa.”
Various dollar amounts have been awarded to each of the 15 projects, ranging from $360 to $3,000. Grant recipients were presented with a copy of their check and a plaque commemorating the award.
Whitfield Education Foundation Director George “Smitty” Barnett presented the awards.
“As a recently retired educator with Whitfield County Schools, it does my heart good to see the creative ideas that our teachers in the district have — and to see the foundation partnering with them to help reach those goals,” Barnett said. “It is important to always remember that we all carry the weight of helping our children grow, and this is one way of doing that.”
The foundation has awarded grants annually since 1990.
Money to support the programs is raised through fundraisers and private donations.
Said Janet Robbins, the agriculture teacher at Northwest Whitfield High School, who was awarded a grant to enhance the school’s veterinary science program, “With funds tight, I am so thankful for this. The money truly allows us the opportunity to do more things in the schools.”