Two grant awards aimed at making school a more interactive experience for students outside of class will bring $5,000 each to Kinston High School and Pink Hill Elementary School.
The Lowe’s Toolbox For Education Grants will help Catherine Seitzer, media coordinator at the high school, proceed with her plan to remodel and reinvent the library there and will put heavy duty outdoor musical instruments on the playground at Pink Hill.
“We wanted something that could be used on the playground but still have an educational link to it,” said Brenda Griffin, fourth grade teacher and head of the grant-writing committee at Pink Hill. “We went with some musical activities that would be outside yet give children an opportunity to have a musical, artistic experience. That’s something they can do together in groups and have interaction with each other.”
With the grant, the school will purchase and install tuned drums, a glockenspiel and a recycled plastic chime wall. That will bring to five the total number of instruments available to children during free playtime outdoors.
“We already have a couple of pieces one of our second-grade teachers purchased with a grant,” principal Lee Anne Hardy said. “We knew how much students enjoyed those pieces and that led us to expand.”
Hardy encourages and Griffin leads a coordinated grant-writing effort that has brought the elementary school phenomenal success in winning cash and in-kind awards. This school year, Pink Hill teachers have won 32 grants, including five written by Griffin. This year’s Lowe’s Toolbox Grant is the second the school has won in three years; Lowes’ rules require winners to sit out a year before reapplying.
“This was a grant that our grant team worked on together,” Griffin said. “Mrs. Hardy had made some suggestions about things we could use this grant for and one of them was a suggestion for something to go out on the playground.”
Both Hardy and Griffin said they had noticed how popular outdoor instruments were with young visitors to museums geared to children. “They appeal to children’s creativity. Nothing’s structured,” Hardy said. “We need to diversify what’s out on the playground from an interest standpoint.”
Seitzer has much the same goal at Kinston High – only in the school’s media center. “I’m trying to make over the space,” she said. “We are going to take out a bunch of shelves and rip up the carpet and put in new flooring, and paint it up. We’re expanding the area to make it more of a collaborative learning space rather than a storage house.”
Earlier this year, she won a statewide grant that purchased technical equipment for use in the media center by classes or students working independently, creating “a space where students come in with a problem and solve it through hands-on learning.” She has another grant pending for the purchase of a graphics novel library.
“I’m trying to get people back in here,” she said. “I’m trying to make it one of the central hubs of the school.”
To that end, she plans to host weekly lunches with the librarian – one for students and one for teachers. “With the students, it could be like a current events club, where they can come in and talk about whatever they want to talk about, something to get them acclimated to this space,” Seitzer said. “With the teachers, it would be like professional development – how to use this space, how to use the new equipment that’s coming in and how to integrate it into their lesson planning.”
Lowe’s accepts up to 3,000 grant applications nationwide during the year and funds as many as 500 grants during the fall and spring cycles. Kinston and Pink Hill applied in September as part of the fall cycle and learned of their award earlier this month.
Winners are encouraged to work with their local Lowe’s Home Improvement store in fulfilling the grant, an offer that includes volunteer help from store employees.
“I’ll call our local Lowe’s store management and get everything I need to get started,” Seitzer said.