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Education Foundation awards 53 grants to LCPS teachers

A record fundraising effort for the Lenoir County Education Foundation translated into 53 mini-grants awarded to Lenoir County Public Schools teachers at 12 schools last week.

The grants have a value of $21,172 – a record total for a program that goes back decades.

“We’re glad to be back in the mini-grant business,” Craig Hill, executive director of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce, the Education Foundation’s parent organization, told winning teachers at Pink Hill Elementary School on Thursday. “We had a year there we couldn’t do them, so we’re glad to see all the different ideas that you have and give you a chance to enhance your classrooms.”

Nine female teachers hold envelopes pose with two men.The coronavirus pandemic forced the mini-grant program to take a one-year recess. It’s primary fundraiser, a superball golf tournament, was also cancelled for 2020. When the golf tournament returned this past September, it enjoyed best-ever participation and raised enough month to push the total value of grants awarded to about $1,000 more than in 2019.

Each grant is capped at $500.

All money awarded as grants comes from event proceeds and private donations. The Education Foundation also plans to sponsor an adult spelling bee as a spring fundraiser.

About 160 applications were received by the panel of judges who chose the winner. The Education Foundations Prize Patrol – led by Hill and his executive assistant Linda Whittington and joined at various points by LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams, golf tournament organizer Judy Jones, tournament committee member Carmon Jones and Education Foundation chair Becky Whittington – visited the 12 schools Thursday and surprised teachers with grant checks and carnations.

“Congratulations to all of our LCPS teachers who were awarded mini-grants last week by the Lenoir County Education Foundation,” Williams said. “Their hard work and dedication in writing and submitting the winning mini-grant proposals are directly responsible for adding additional resources and materials to our classrooms to supplement instruction and to create additional opportunities for the students we serve.”

Science, math, reading, writing, art, music, history, gardening – the variety of proposals funded through the mini-grants reflects the range of teacher interests and the breadth of the LCPS curriculum from elementary to high school.

South Lenoir High School ag science teacher Margo Harper plans to use her $495 grant to fund a honey bee research project, purchasing hive boxes, bee suits and equipment to manage the bees – all this despite the fact that she’s a little uncomfortable around bees. That’s part of the lesson, she told the Prize Patrol.

   “I imagine some of my students feel the same way,” she said. “You can’t learn about something if you fear it.”

David Miles, the music teacher at La Grange Elementary, will use his $490 grant to build on another gift to the school. “Back in August, our music program was blessed with the generous donation of a set of ukuleles from an outside donor,” he said. “I wrote my grant to provide literature and general method books for my students, who will be starting their ukulele studies in the spring. I am adding ukulele studies to the LGES music program in order to further my students’ understanding of general music theory/note reading, as well as instrumental performance.”

Several grants will fund activities designed to improve the social and emotional well-being of students, a particular concern of educators during the Covid-19 crisis.

Anne Ormand, the school counselor at Northwest Elementary, will use her $309 grant to teach mindfulness and breathing techniques to encourage relaxation and self-control.

“The grant will be used to purchase 10 sets of Mindful Maze Boards as well as 6 Big Feelings Pineapple activity sets,” Ormand said. “I will use the boards during guidance lessons where students learn mindfulness and the importance of using breathing for self-management. The Feelings sets will be used in small group counseling to teach students about feelings and how to manage them.”

Pink Hill led all schools with grant awards, winning nine, followed by Northwest Elementary and Kinston High with seven each. Woodington won the most among middle schools with six.

“I appreciate our outstanding teachers very much for earning these accomplishments and for the additional effort supporting these results,” Williams said. “These positive outcomes during this continued period of pandemic and recovery – a time when many districts are experiencing decreased mini-grant funding – are especially impressive.”

Grant winners by school are:

Banks Elementary – the team of Britni Davis and Thalya Bautista; Bobbi Colie; Taylor Perry Whitman; the team of Andrew Croom, Jenifer Oliver, Jennifer Kiefer and Melissa Southerland; the team of Wanda Daughtery and Michelle Jarman

Contentnea-Savanna K-8 – Carla Batchelor, the team of Mary Riddick and Nichole Hathaway, and Stephanie Bradshaw

Kinston High – Sara Levin, Kellan Bryant, Crystal Payton, Amy White, Perry Tyndall, the team of Cory Buie and Vickie B. Wessell, and the team of Crystal Dixon and Cortney Young

Lenoir County Early College High School – Porsha Bell and the team of Elizabeth Vick-Smith and Jan Humphrey

Lenoir County Learning Academy – Jakara Lopez

La Grange Elementary – Tiffany Ingram, Sarah L. Winnie, Alicia Davis, Ramon Jones, the team of Pamela Creech and Brittany Spellman, and David Miles

Moss Hill Elementary – Meredith Sanderson and Jordan Gray

Northeast Elementary – the team of Jessica Murphy, Dawn Rowland, Cassandra Williams, Tayetta Darden, Helen Morris and Kaye Hardison; Melissa Capel; and Anita Winter

Northwest Elementary – Emily Tribula, Karen Croom, Anne Ormond, Phil Huffman, Janis Skoczylas, the team of Lisa Jernigan and Phillis Pearsall, and the team of Connor Potter, Heather Clark, Kaci Turner, Ashley Wooten and Josh Hawkins

Pink Hill Elementary – Brenda Griffin, Sherri Grubbs, Jodi Stocks, Kim Hardister, Amy Taylor, Katie-Beth Hill, Jennifer McLawhorn, Selina Gray and Betsy Mercer

South Lenoir High – Margo L. Harper

Woodington Middle – Julie Adams, Majesty McPhail, Steven Loftin, Mari Hatcher, Jessica Jones and the team of Traci Howard and Anna Rouse

“I want to thank the leadership of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce and the Lenoir County Education Foundation for their tireless dedication to providing support and essential additional resources for our school system and our stakeholders,” the superintendent said.

“Thank you to the Executive Director of the Chamber, Craig Hill, and Chamber-Education Foundation leaders Judy Jones, Becky Whittington, Carmon Jones and Linda Whittington for conducting the exciting ‘Prize Patrol’ presentations in our schools. We thank them for continuing to partner with us and to invest in our schools, our teachers and our students.”

Photo caption:

Pink Hill Elementary School paced the 2021 Education Foundation mini-grant awards by winning nine. LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams, far left, and Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce executive director Craig Hill, right rear, delivered the checks to teachers, from left, back row, Brenda Griffin, Kim Hardister, Katie-Beth Hill, Selina Gray and Amy Taylor; front row: Sherri Grubbs, Betsy Mercer, Jennifer McLawhorn and Jodi Stocks Peele.