It’s only November, but for many teachers and staff at Fort Mill schools, it may feel a little like Christmas.
The Foundation for Fort Mill Schools awarded annual grants for 15 Innovative Classroom Project applications. The grants, valued at $750 each, as well as a TEC Dowling Grant for Technology, a $500 grant, were awarded in a wide range of grade levels and subject areas. They aid subjects including reading, STEM and leadership skills.
The Innovative Classroom Project grants help supply teachers with materials needed for creative classroom projects, like Amy Rohring, Kaleb Greenan and Ashley Pfountz’s grant, “Engineering a Path to Success: Learning Through STEM.”
The Gold Hill Elementary School teachers wrote the grant to help them incorporate science, technology, engineering and math activities and materials into their classrooms. The grant will allow them to purchase two rocket launchers, valued around $180 each, MagLev vehicles to go along with their unit on magnets, as well as nonfiction books that correspond to science topic like magnets and matter.
The materials will be shared among many grade levels, Rohring said.
“We needed the grant money to purchase them,” Rohring said.
“It helps us get those things. (The money) goes a long way in a classroom and allows us to get things we normally couldn’t afford or we wouldn’t want to ask parents for.”
The TEC Dowling grant, named for the late former superintendent of Fort Mill schools, was awarded to Ashley Mantel, an interventionist at Riverview Elementary School, to purchase voice recorders. The voice recorders help Mantel encourage students to complete their nightly required 20 minutes of reading. The students record themselves reading at night and return the recorder each morning to Mantel. It helps her ensure students are completing their nightly required reading, makes it more fun for students, and promotes reading fluency, she said.
Mantel started using a single voice recorder with one student last year and had almost immediate success, she said. That encouraged her to apply for the grant, which allowed her to purchase 15 more recorders.
“It really worked. (The student) got into it and his reading level improved,” Mantel said. “He could tell the difference in just one month. He could hear the difference.”
The foundation also awarded two $250 Professional Development Grants and a $1,000 Principal Project Grant.
Ryan Milling, a guidance counselor at Orchard Park Elementary School, was the recipient of one of the professional development grants, which provides him training on the Bucketfilling program, a program that teaches children to use actions and words to boost confidence and happiness in themselves and others.
Keith Griffin, principal of Springfield Middle School, along with teacher Sara Wallace, received the $1,000 Principal Project Grant for the WEB project, a project that will train eighth-grade leaders to be positive role models for sixth-graders.
The Foundation for Fort Mill Schools was established in 2003 to help promote and enhance academic programs in Fort Mill schools. They are funded through private donations. The foundation awards grants to educators annually as well as several academic scholarships. It also provides professional development grants to help finance special training for teachers and staff.
The support of the foundation helps expand programs at Fort Mill schools, Rohring said, and provides students and staff with experiences they might otherwise not have.
“It’s wonderful because these materials we would never have been able to purchase. We feel supported by the foundation. They listen to us and understand that we can use these things to enhance instruction,” Rohring said.