WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) - Waynesboro Public Schools is empowering students to address community challenges, specifically food access and workforce needs.
Two schools now have implementation grants to put their plans into action.
The State Department of Education has awarded Kate Collins Middle School and Waynesboro High School $300,000 each for Extended School Programs.
“It really is more about programs that happen outside of the traditional school day,” said Dr. India Harris, Director of Secondary Instruction for Waynesboro Public Schools.
The first program is growing the evening building trades class at Waynesboro High School. That means continuing input from community partners.
“What are their needs? What are they seeing that they are in need of,” asked newly hired Denise Cotter who’ll be managing the Extended School Program for Waynesboro Public Schools. “And matching that with the interests of our students and giving them these life skill courses.”
That could mean teaming with Blue Ridge Community College and others for training in things like logistics and forklift operations, phlebotomy, and emergency dispatch.
“To offer some of those more short-term certifications that kids will be able to get right out into the workforce,” said Harris.
The second program is at Kate Collins Middle School, partnering with Allegheny Mountain Institute and White’s Spring Valley Farm for a student-run community garden addressing food access and equity. More than 60 kids already want to be a part of it.
“They really respond to that idea of equity and thinking about how that works within a community,” stated Harris.
And, it’s providing real-life context to what they’re learning inside the classroom.
“It’s talking about science and soil. You’re talking about weather. You’re talking about economics of how food scarcity and how do you get from the farm to the table,” said Cotter.
The Extended School Program calls for students to be leaders with active roles in addressing those community challenges.
“Really focus on getting the kids at the table and taking a role in designing these programs and moving them forward,” said Harris.
Waynesboro Public Schools can apply for these grants for two more years while working to make these programs sustainable.
WPS Press Release November 11, 2020
During the 2019-20 school year, Waynesboro High and Kate Collins Middle Schools were awarded two $50,000 Extended Year Planning Grants to develop programs which will empower our students to address community challenges. Recently, both schools were awarded $300,000 each to implement these innovative programs. These grants are renewable for up to three years, provided the annual applications are approved.
In partnership with AMI and White’s Spring Valley Farm, Kate Collins Middle School will be building a student-run community garden. The vegetables produced will be used to enhance our community’s health and access to fresh, locally-grown vegetables. With the support of many community partners, Waynesboro High School will continue to develop and implement new programs like our Building Trades class, which is currently being offered in the evenings. We plan to offer similar after-school workforce training programs like logistics/fork-lifting training and phlebotomy later this year.
In order to ensure the terms of these competitive grants are met, Waynesboro Public Schools will use a small portion of the grants to fund a Community Outreach and Extended Year Grants Manager. We are pleased to announce Denise Cotter will join Waynesboro Public Schools in this role. Mrs. Cotter has a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Mary Baldwin University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgia State University. She has worked within local nonprofit businesses doing marketing, fund-raising and community outreach. She has also directed a community- based independent living facility for aging adults. Mrs. Cotter and her family reside in Staunton.