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Education Foundation awards 56 grants at 11 schools

As part of their social studies work, Kristina Jones’ fifth graders will learn about the 50 states by using their iPads to create tourism commercials. Working closer to home, Betsy Mercer’s students will use digital tools to monitor the weather in their own backyard. The entire fourth grade at La Grange Elementary will have their nose in new novels, to be read as a class and discussed.

All these engaging lessons – and many more like them – are made possible by 56 Lenoir County Education Foundation mini-grant awards presented last week to LCPS teachers at 11 schools. Total value of these 2022 grants: $23, 848. That’s a new record for a grant program that goes back more than two decades.

 Female teacher gets a hug from two first-grade girls.“The mini-grant program has a big impact in our county because it helps individual teachers and their classrooms,” said Vicky Jones, executive director of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce, the parent organization of the Education Foundation. “It also has an impact on our chamber members and sponsors who participate in the Lenoir County Education Foundation programs that actually raise the money that funds the mini-grants.”

The grants are capped at $500. All money awarded comes from private donations and event proceeds, primarily the Education Foundation Superball Tournament held each fall. The Education Foundation also plans to sponsor an adult spelling bee as a fundraiser next month.

Jones and LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams led a delegation christened the Prize Patrol as it delivered grant checks to teachers throughout the county on Wednesday. Among the presenters were chamber of commerce staff, members of the grant selection committee, Education Foundation board members and Judy and Carmon Jones, chair and member, respectively, of the committee that organizes the golf tournament.

Find pictures of grant winners on our Facebook page.

The 56 winning grants were chosen from about 150 applications, according to Vicky Jones. Each grade span – elementary, middle and high school – had winners. Pink Hill Elementary led all schools with 18 grant awards. Woodington Middle School teachers won nine grants, the most of any middle school, and North Lenoir paced high schools with five winners.

“Congratulations to all of our winners of Education Foundation mini-grants,” Williams said. “In writing and winning mini-grants, they bring additional resources to their classrooms and create value-added 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.

“The money is to buy resources – books about each state and the territory of Puerto Rico,” said Kristina Jones, the Moss Hill Elementary teacher who’s going to turn her classroom into a tourism trade show. “The kids are going to do research and with that research, not only with the books but also with digital resources, they’re going to create travel brochures and tourism commercials.”

Funded by a $477 grant, the project pairs up with curriculum standards for fifth grade social studies and geography, “learning about the United States and its different regions,” the teacher said.

The classroom sets of novels to be purchased with the $500 grant that the team of fourth-grade teachers at La Grange Elementary won will give students a fun way to prepare for end-of-grade testing, known as EOGs.

“We’ll read the books as a class and discuss the books and the kids will answer questions about them,” said Kelly Sears, one of the teachers. “They’ll be preparing for the EOGs but will also be having fun reading books together. Kids love that. This is one of the favorite parts of the day, when we pull out their novels.”

The $468 grant Betsy Mercer won for their fifth-grade class at Pink Hill Elementary is also designed to make learning fun, in this case the study of the science behind weather systems.

“Our classroom will be transformed into an extensive weather platform that will give students accurate information about the weather in our own backyard. We will purchase an AcuRite Weather System to be installed outside our classroom window. We will also have a monitor that is inside our classroom where we will have a colorful display system. We will watch daily the powerful weather readings as well as patterns and weather trends that link us to the rest of the world,” Mercer said.

Mercer sees the weather lessons contributing to good marks on the science EOGs, to success in this year’s Science Olympiad and to the STEM Design Challenge.

“We will also use our weather knowledge and engineering STEM skills to build windmills that are powered by air pressure and wind,” she said. “What an awesome, fun and real-world activity that will bring meaning to our classroom learning.”

Grant winners by schools are:

Banks Elementary – Caylee Williams, Regan Crowley and Jennifer Bennett, Weil Sawyer, Catherine Huff and the EC team of Keeda Darden, Toinette Lewis, Austin Davis and Deanna Hughes.

Contentnea-Savannah K-8 – April Modlin, Treasure Gnash, Nicolette Morgan and Frank Bland and the team of Annie Kornegay, Katie McCarter and Emily Burkett.

La Grange Elementary – Sarah Winnie, Tammy M. Boyette, Katherine Sowers and the team of Ashley Rosencrance, Kelly Sears, Makenzie Adams and Joni Wood.

Moss Hill Elementary – Kristina Jones

North Lenoir High – Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Christy Burkett, Breonna Baker, Kady Long and Nineva Angel.

Northeast Elementary – Konya Houston and the team of John Munoz, Raven Moore, Morgan Howard and Yolanda Henderson.

Northwest Elementary – Karen Croom, Anne Ormond, the team of Rachel Hill, Kaitlyn Stroud and Shalona Gay and the team of Jessica Avery, Sarah Carraway, Lena Carroll, Katherine Hart and Jessica Perry.

Pink Hill Elementary – Sherri Grubbs, Jean Turner, Brenda Griffin, Leyha Murphy, Walter Upthegrove, Brandy Hardin, Katelyn Burrus, Shanella Roberts, Allison Whitfield, Selina Gray, Breanna Tyndall, Leigh Anne Hall, Jami Finch, Megan Lawson, Aaron Murdock, Lindsay Marshburn, Betsy Mercer and Julie Rouse.

South Lenoir High – Sheree Casias and Gloria Kent.

Southwood Elementary – Amanda Hoover

Woodington Elementary – Monica Johnson, Julie Adams, Megan Rager, Madelyn Coates, Carolina Baker, Sherry Sanderson and Kara Howard, Joshua Wallace, Kara Howard and Charles Jason Rouse.

Photo caption:

Amanda Hoover, a first-grade teacher at Southwood Elementary School, won a 2022 mini-grant from the Lenoir County Education Foundation and got hugs from her students when the grant awards were delivered Wednesday. The Education Foundation and its parent organization, the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce, distributed 56 grant awards with a total value of $23,848 to teachers at 11 LCPS schools.