Albemarle Public Schools
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Nine Albemarle County public schools have received $13,424 in innovation grants for classroom projects for the 2013-14 school year. The grants are from the Edgar and Eleanor Shannon Foundation for Excellence in Public Education.
The largest single grant is $4,675 for the Community Public Charter School. Science teacher Kathryn Durkee said the award will fund a three-year environmental education project for middle school students based on the Lewis and Clark expeditions. Students will research discoveries by the two explorers and recreate their findings by collecting and propagating seeds to re-establish native plants.
The project will include work with the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center, field trips, and instruction from the Wintergreen Nature Foundation. Students also will interview naturalists, compile a journal, and compare present day habitat to that which existed in the early 19th century.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for students to take learning to a deeper level," said Durkee. "Being able to experience even a small part of Lewis and Clark's discoveries will have much more lasting impact than simply reading about those journeys," she added.
Another environmental education project, at Crozet Elementary School, received $2,590 to build an outdoor science classroom in the form of a rain garden habitat. Students at the school will begin work this fall.
"Through the support of the state's Schoolyard Habitat Program, our students were able to meet with a local environmental architect to begin designing the habitat, and during the school year, they will complete its development. We expect to be using the classroom by spring," said Gwedette Crummie, Crozet's principal.
Crozet also shared a $1,500 grant award with Red Hill Elementary School for a project that will showcase American and European musical traditions through the use of ukuleles.
Four schools received $750 apiece: Albemarle and Monticello high schools and Meriwether Lewis and Woodbrook elementary schools. Albemarle and Monticello will use their grants to support their robotics programs; Meriwether Lewis will apply their award to support learning in digital manufacturing techniques; and Woodbrook will use their grant for an environmental awareness program.
In addition to Crozet, Red Hill and Woodbrook also received a second grant. Woodbrook will use $610 to study world cultures using drum patterns and rhythms to experiment with vocabulary development, academic language, and different forms of communication. Red Hill will use $345 for a language skills program.
Baker-Butler Elementary School will use their $454 grant to enable students to complete silk paintings as part of their study of the silkworm, and Western Albemarle High School received $250 to enable special education students to benefit from a work study activity.
The Shannon Foundation was established in 1990 to provide funds to public school teachers in the city and county for use in innovative programming. The Foundation is named for University of Virginia President Emeritus Edgar F. Shannon, Jr., and his wife, Eleanor, in honor of their contributions to public education over many years.
According to the Foundation, teachers who have received grants have documented an increase in student test scores and greater enthusiasm for learning among students. All administrative costs for the foundation are funded through contributions from its board of directors, so 100 percent of monies received from the public are used for school projects.