Submitted photo: Working together: “The Solution Squad,” a STEM club at Farrington Grove Elementary, received a Vigo County Education Foundation mini-grant. The program will operate a little differently this year, with COVID-19 protocols in place.
By Sue Loughlin, Tribune-Star
Projects that teach students about Terre Haute history, encourage enthusiasm for reading and foster a love of the sciences are among those awarded grants from the Vigo County Education Foundation.
VCEF awarded 90 mini-grants totaling $54,062 for classroom enrichment opportunities in Vigo County School Corp. schools. The awards were announced Thursday during a FaceBook Live presentation, a format used because of COVID-19 precautions.
“All of these mini-grants are made for $750 or less, and it is amazing to see what great teachers are able to accomplish with that amount of money,” said Jane Nichols, VCEF executive director.
Among the recipients, Justin Allen, a third-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary, is part of a grade-level grant, “Through My Eyes ... Scrapbook of Terre Haute History” at the school. He also has a classroom grant, “Books in Hands, Smiles on Faces.”
The history project involved a collaboration of Franklin grade-level teachers and the art teacher. Students take a virtual field trip through the city, then produce a scrapbook they later show at the Literacy Fair, Allen said.
“This project makes learning about our city exciting. We often hear the students talking about their scrapbooks well after the projects are finished,” Allen said. “In many ways, the students start to take pride in the community they live in by learning the rich history of Terre Haute.”
The one specific to his classroom, called Books in Hands, Smiles on Faces, focuses on fostering a love of reading.
It allows his students to order a book to read during his Flashlight Friday events, which take place in class. “This is when students spread out and read by flashlight a book of their choice, giving them a relaxed, yet fun environment to read,” Allen said. “I have seen even the most reluctant reader enjoy this time. The best part is the students are allowed to keep the book to add to their personal libraries at home.”
The Education Foundation funding is important to the school, which has a free and reduced school lunch rate of around 95%.
“Every bit of funding that comes to our school is put to good use because of this,” Allen said.
Farrington Grove Elementary students eagerly eyed the items they hope to be able to “purchase” at the Tiger Attendance Store through points they earn each day by going to school.
The items included balls of every kind, backpacks, notebooks, school glue, books and even a virtual reality headset. Students will have to save up for that last one, which is 100 points.
Third-grader Jameson McCracken would like to go for the virtual reality headset, or maybe a remote control car, which is only 30 points. Asked if the stores encourages kids to go to school, he responded, “Pretty much.”
The school was one of 19 to benefit from school-wide grants given out by the Vigo County Education Foundation Friday morning during a Business and Bagels program at Riley Elementary.
The grants ranged form $1,000 to $3,000, and nearly $40,000 was distributed, said Jane Nichols, foundation executive director.
The programs could potentially impact more than 8,700 students, or about 9% of the VCSC student population.
The projects cover nearly every curriculum content area, she said.
“We have school-wide theatrical programs, language arts programs and Ben Franklin Elementary has an audio book program,” Nichols said.
Riley Elementary has a literacy project called, “When Food and Fiction Collide,” based on an author — Terry Border — who creates characters based on food items. Later in the school year, students will create their own characters using food items and other objects, and they’ll write their own stories.
Honey Creek Middle School and Terre Haute North Vigo will use grants for makerspace projects. At North, a makerspace in the media center will give all students access to advanced technology, including a 3D printer and green screen technology.
Makerspaces are areas where students go to explore, build, create and tinker.
“It gives students opportunities to do more out-of-the-box thinking, collaborative projects and hands-on learning,” Nichols said.
The grants allow schools “to do projects they wouldn’t be able to do without foundation funding,” she said.
It’s also a year of celebration for the foundation, with 2019-20 representing the 35th year it has been awarding grants and enriching learning opportunities for Vigo County students. “At the end of this fiscal year, by June, we will have granted $3 million back to our Vigo County schools since 1984,” Nichols said.
Read more Here.
Education Foundation funds make dynamic impact again
Tribune Star Editorial Board
Helping to provide rich educational experiences and opportunities for public school students is a primary goal of the Vigo County Education Foundation.
The organization certainly has good reason to feel it achieved, or even surpassed, that goal this year.
Last week, the Foundation presented dozens of financial grants to teachers in the Vigo County School Corp. for enrichment projects in their classrooms. But the big news was the record-breaking total of all grants offered.
In all, the Foundation awarded 155 grants totaling $91,353. Among the teacher-requested grants, 63 are for new projects this school year.
With all the financial struggles facing school districts in Indiana, the presence of a strong and engaged Education Foundation is giving creative teachers in Vigo County a boost when it comes to finding new ways to reach and engage their students.
The funds are touching a wide swatch of the student population. Each grant is for $750 or less, so $91,353 goes a long way. Education Foundation Executive Director Jane Nichols says that's the beauty of the grant program and "it is amazing to see what great teachers are able to accomplish with that amount of money."
In its 35 year existence, the Education Foundation has granted more than $2 million to schools and programs. Those funds and the creative instruction that accompanies them make an enormous and lasting impact on students. That the organization can continue to award such grants year in and year out, and even see those contributions grow, is a testament to the value and faith people place in it.
We applaud the Education Foundation for its work and all the educators who take advantage of the teaching opportunities it presents.
See the article Here.
Foundation awards $91K to help great teachers
Third-graders at Fuqua Elementary have an opportunity to enhance their STEM skills and enjoy positive classroom culture each day thanks to a grant in memory of a Terre Haute South Vigo High School student.
“Building Good Character through Morning Meetings and STEM” is a project of Leslie Yocum and Jessyka West. A grant for that project was among dozens presented Wednesday afternoon by the Vigo County Education Foundation at Sarah Scott Middle School.
In a record amount of giving, the foundation awarded 155 grants totaling $91,353 to teachers for classroom enrichment opportunities. Of the 150 teacher-requested grants, 63 are new projects.
“I think it is indicative of teachers’ attempts to reach and engage students in different and creative ways,” said Jane Nichols, executive director of the Vigo County Education Foundation.
“All of these mini-grants are made for $750 or less, and it is amazing to see what great teachers are able to accomplish with that amount of money,” Nichols said.
The Building Good Character project at Fuqua received the Travis J. Smith Memorial Mini Grant, which focuses on at-risk students and character development.
Tami and Jimmy Smith presented the award in memory of their son Travis, who was killed in an automobile accident during his freshman year at Ball State University.
A South Vigo graduate, Travis was a four-year member of the golf team and played varsity basketball. He was a long-time member of Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club, where he developed compassionate concern for children who were less fortunate.
Teacher Jessyka West said the Morning Meetings are being used to transition students into the school day as the children learn to greet each other kindly and develop social skills.
“We noticed a lot of students come to school and they really need some transition time before their brains were ready to start learning,” West said after accepting the check of about $450 to purchase a variety of hands-on items such as blocks, Legos, dominoes and connective toys.
“We started doing some STEM activities on our own last year and noticed that it really helps start the day,” West said.
She and Yocum also read about Morning Meetings and thought they could use both concepts to start off the day positively for the students.
Read more Here.
The Vigo County Education Foundation is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization committed to providing programs and projects that enhance and enrich public education.
For 35 years, the foundation has connected private dollars with public schools through community support from both businesses and individuals.
The VCEF is once again providing transportation funding for the summer enrichment and remediation program for students, which includes Math Magic/Writing Wonders and IREAD3.
These programs help children improve their reading and writing skills as well as learn problem-solving strategies to help them become proficient in math. Children from all 18 elementary schools and five middle schools attend these programs hosted at Woodrow Wilson Middle School.
Throughout the academic year, the VCEF also funds transportation for numerous field trips: a special concert performed by the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra for fourth-graders, Fowler Park Pioneer Days for all second-graders and transportation and admission fees for all first-graders to the Terre Haute Children’s Museum. The foundation also provides academic team competition support and is an active participant in the burgeoning Career Technology Education Department.
Last year, over $240,000 in grants were awarded across all curriculum content areas. These grants provide a multitude of hands-on learning experiences in math, science, literacy and the arts, as well as support programs that encourage good attendance and family involvement.
The VCEF is able to do this with the help of individual and corporate gifts, grants and fundraising events. Their largest fundraiser, the annual “Fore” the Kids Golf Scramble, is slated for July 26 at Rea Park. This event always sells out, so early registration is encouraged.
For more information about events or the Vigo County Education Foundation and its mission, visit vigocounty educationfoundation.org. People can also contact Jane Nichols, executive director, at 812-462-4077. “Like” them on Facebook and follow on Twitter @TheVCEF and Instagram @vcef2018. Read more.
Garrett Thomas and other elementary students used pizza boxes, plastic, black paper and aluminum foil to construct “solar ovens” that they placed on the sidewalk, in sunshine, near the Woodrow Wilson Middle School entrance.
Perhaps the best part of the science project was eating the final product — melted s’mores. Earlier in the day, the students in Lindsey Coons’ writing class used the science experiment for a writing project.
“The plastic traps all the heat in ... so it can melt the chocolate,” and the black paper “absorbs the heat,” said Thomas, who will be in fourthgrade next school year. About 15 minutes later, the chocolate melted, he and other students enjoyed their edible creation.
“I’m going to try this at home,” he said Wednesday.
Thomas is one of about 500 Vigo County School Corp. students in grades 2-12 participating in a variety of summer school programs taking place at Woodrow Wilson.
They include reading/writing and math enrichment programs for grades 3-8, called Math Magic and Reading/Writing Wonders; a foundational literacy program for second and third graders; and a high school Performing Arts Workshop. Read more.