A long wish list worth nearly $13,000 got filled this week as the Lenoir County Education Foundation passed out checks to winners of its 2016-2017 mini-grants at seven LCPS schools.
The 30 grants awarded and their total value of $12,962 were both records for the program, according to Laura Lee Sylvester, executive director of the Foundation and president of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce, its parent group.
Thirty-four teachers and an elementary school principal shared in the bounty. Some of the grants – all capped at $500 – went to teams of teachers.
Compared to 2015, the last year the grants were awarded, the Foundation passed out six more grants this year and allocated an additional $2,600 to the program. Traditionally, the mini-grants are awarded in December after judging of applications due at the end of October; last year, flooding from Hurricane Matthew forced a delay.
The Education Foundation’s Prize Patrol, headed by Sylvester and Foundation board chair Tonya Adams, surprised the winners at their schools Wednesday and Thursday, presenting checks and balloons.
“We’d like to have enough money and award enough grants to have the Prize Patrol out for three days next year,” Sylvester said. The mini-grant program is supported primarily through community events like the Adult Spelling Bee held in February and last week’s fundraiser luncheon keynoted by former North Carolina governor Bev Perdue. Planning is underway on other fundraisers to expand the program, Sylvester said.
This year’s grant winners have a range of uses for the money, many oriented toward the digital technology that has become the heart of teaching and learning in LCPS.
Several teachers plan to buy headphones for their students’ iPads. Andrew Gorman of Woodington Middle School plans to use his $440 to subscribe to Brain POP, an app he thinks will make social studies concepts easier to grasp for his seventh graders.
Amy Taylor, the exceptional children’s teacher at Pink Hill Elementary, has $500 to spend on therapeutic exercise equipment for her students.
Julie Rouse, digital learning specialist at Pink Hill, wrote a $500 grant request to buy digital books that her group of at-risk readers will read to dogs from the SPCA shelter, an exercise that studies show helps students improve their comprehension and reading fluency since they’re practicing in a fun, non-judgmental environment.
Michelle Hill, principal at Southwood Elementary, has a like amount to help finance her Parent Reading Night project, when parents of K-2 students will come to school for three reading nights and receive a book to take home. Hers was one of four grants awarded at Southwood – two focused on reading, one of computer coding and another on building model solar cars.
“Receiving grant money will provide our students opportunities to engage in hands-on activities,” Hill said. “We are excited at Southwood because we had a dream and with help from Education Foundation mini-grants, our dreams will come true.”
Grant winners, their schools and the amounts of their grants are:
Kim Hipkiss, North Lenoir High School, $500; Caren McCarter, Banks Elementary School, $500; Crystal Hodges, La Grange Elementary, $302; Jennifer H. Sutton, La Grange Elementary, $445; Allison Mittman, Moss Hill Elementary, $179; and Catherine Lynch, Moss Hill Elementary, $395.
Also, from Southwood Elementary, Kara Howard, $450; Angeli Jarman, $350; Melissa Ball, Taylor Davis and Jamie Dixon, $500, and Michelle Hill, $500.
Also, from Woodington Middle, Tiera Jones and Anna Rouse, $300; Kellie M. Wolfe, $500; Kelly Dawson, $500; Mellany Davis and Shirley Whitley, $499; David Roach and Lee Taylor, $329; Andrew Gorman, $440; and Selina Shoaf, $500.
Also, from Pink Hill Elementary, Amy Taylor, $500; Walter Upthegrove, $248; Barbara Bena Miller, $401; Katelyn Ball, $421; Kelly Bluhm, $475; Melissa Boone, $475; Jessica Bryan, $403; Jennifer Grubbs, $489; Darlene Holloway $497; Traci Howard, $471; Helen Lewis, $400; Julie Rouse, $500; and Jean Turner, $487.