Teacher Venture Grants available from SEF

The Solanco Education Foundation creates new and enhanced educational opportunities within the district by awarding grants to teachers and scholarships to students. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than 100 Academic Venture Grants to teachers totaling nearly $60,000. These funds are provided by individuals and businesses in our community. We truly appreciate their generosity.

To be considered for a grant, teachers submit a Venture Grant request to SEF, specifying what the project is intended to accomplish, as well as the amount of funds requested. Most Grants are $500 with some flexibility based on the need. A SEF Board Committee reviews the request and then the entire Board determines to whom the Grants are approved.

SEF requests our Teacher Venture Grant recipients to provide reports at the end of the term, to evaluate to benefits of the grant to the students and the educators.

Please take a look at the reports below and find out how the funds were managed and the benefits from each activity.

Kevin Childs

Smith and Swift Middle Schools:
The SEF Venture Grant money went towards purchasing supplies for the competitive events that the Solanco Middle School Technology Student Association (TSA) Chapter needed to compete at the local and state levels. These supplies included balsa wood airplane kits, CO2 dragster kits, circle templates and a French curve, tape measures, a digital camera, masking tape, clear-front report covers, and 11×17 grid paper for drafting.

There were 17 students involved in TSA from both Smith and Swift Middle Schools. These students used the materials purchased to create entries for the Regional Conference and the State Conference. This grant was very successful. We had a great year for TSA, placing 1st in three of our events and qualifying in three more at the PA TSA Region 2 Conference. We also had one of our TSA members place 4th in one of his events at the PA TSA State conference. The materials purchased allowed students to compete in more events, and allowed them to compete at a high level in those events, which added to the success of the Solanco Middle School TSA Chapter this year. In addition to these successes, the TSA Chapter is gaining popularity; there is already interest for next year from upcoming 6th graders.
I did not encounter any issues with this grant, and I am very happy with how the grant helped advance the Solanco Middle School TSA Chapter.

Kayla Resh

Quarryville Elementary School:
My grant was “Speech In Motion” and it was implemented at Quarryville Elementary School. I had over 55 students that benefited from this grant this school year. Any student that receives speech therapy in the future will benefit as well.

My grant was successful. The students really enjoyed the stools and it enhanced their learning. The only thing I would do differently next time is purchase all the same colors of stools. The students seem to argue over the color of the stool, even though they all are the same.

Allyson Pruskowski

Smith Middle School:
“Take a ‘Stand’ with Education” is a program that helps students learn when they have a difficult time staying seated. The “stand” refers to standing desks that allow students to work while standing up. Although students are expected to learn while seated in a chair, many students just do not have the capacity to do so. Since I am a Learning Support Teacher for grades six through eight at Smith Middle School, this was an extra accommodation that greatly benefits my students with Individualized Education Programs. The standing desks involved over 30 students each day. Since we have two standing desks within the classroom, there is a rotation of students that get to stand there daily.

My grant was successful, students are much more engaged while learning and actually see the standing desk as an incentive. Each student works hard so they have the opportunity to use the standing desk at any given time. Behaviors have also improved since students see the standing desks as a privilege. This was unexpected because I was just trying to engage learning and it ended up being a great tool for behaviors as well. Other than behaviors improving, there were no other unexpected surprises or problems implementing my grant.

Alyssa Lambert

Providence Elementary School:
The title of my grant was “Empowering Student Choice with Meaningful Flexible Seating Choices”. The project was implemented in a 4th grade classroom at Providence Elementary School. My current classroom has 27 students who were able to utilize the flexible seating materials purchased through the grant.

The grant was successful. The flexible seating choices and materials enabled students to find a meaningful seat where they could complete their best work for the day. Students created a system to select seats daily. I felt that the program helped foster a sense of the community in the classroom, as students were able to work in small groups and whole group for various activities.

There were no unexpected surprises or problems with implementing the grant. If anything, the students wished for more of certain seats (i.e. a bench and yoga balls) that were provided through the grant.

Elise Graybill

Providence Elementary School:
The title of my grant was “Auto-B-Good Character Education”. 30 students were involved in the grant, but most of materials can be used year after year. Therefore, the impact will continue for many years to come.

The character education grant was successful. Students need nurturing and instruction in the domain of character education and these fun stories and accompanying materials make it engaging for students to connect with the concepts. I believe that I will be able to develop my character education component in the classroom more each year I do it.

I deeply appreciate the money and the opportunity to continue to provide extra resources for students to learn and grow from. Thank you again SEF!

Amanda Summers

Providence/Clermont Elementary Schools:
The title of my grant was “Flexible Seating Initiative”. 24 students in my general education classroom used the materials and 24 students in a rotation for social studies also used the materials. The materials that are in good condition will be used again next year by my students.

I believe my grant initiative was successful. Students were able to move freely about the room and focus more on the educational instruction being given.

I truly appreciate the opportunity the grant from the Solanco Education Foundation has given me and my students. Thank you for all of the time and effort you as a team put into bettering the educational lives of our students!

Judy Argue

Bart Colerain:
The title of my grant was “A Place to Sit, Wiggle, and Learn”. 21 students loved and reaped the rewards of this grant. They love both the new rug and the wobble stool!

I have also been very encouraged by this grant. Each day, the students choose the rug over other places in the room whenever there is an opportunity to work out of their seats. For Reading Workshop time, they lay on their backs or their bellies, completely comfortable as they enjoy their books. This fosters the development of their love of reading and creates memories of reading a good book with others, who are also happily engaged with their own books.

This is exactly what I had hoped for when I wrote the grant. The rug is a central gathering place for learning and it is a welcome and comfortable spot.

The wobble stool is another great success and I wish that I had many more! We did a science experiment to determine whether it helped them to focus. Each had a turn and 20 out of 21 reported that it helped. Educationally, this allowed us to introduce the Scientific Method and raise student awareness of the purpose of the stools. We also included the balls, sit disks, and student chairs we use in the experiment, further emphasizing that finding a way to focus is a strategy for learning.
Kudos for Lakeshore Learning for replacing the rug without question when the trim began to come off. The only other issue I have found with the grant award is that there is only one wobble stool to share among my students. Therefore, I used money I got from a PPL Bright Kids grant and PTO classroom funds to purchase another one. These stools are great!

I am thankful to the Solanco Education Foundation for this grant. You give ample notice of when it is due and the award is immediate once it has been granted. The May 31 deadline is difficult for some to meet because of end of year responsibilities, but I did find it helpful to have the grant awarded so early in the school year. Many thanks to you again for this grant. It has made a difference in the daily lives of my students and helped them to both focus and to be comfortable in their pursuit of learning.

Leah Kletzli

Providence Elementary School:
The title of my grant was “The Learning Support Program”. We used the grant to purchase 3 Osmo Applications for iPads to be used for the benefit of students within the Learning Support Program by supplementing and enriching the direct instruction programs in addition to supporting the related practices of the para-professionals in a collaborative and meaningful process. The total number of students within the Learning Support Programs fluctuates as students transfer in and out of the school district, as well as those students who are newly evaluated; however it positively impacted around 30-35 students who had the opportunity to benefit from the successful implementation of the “Osmo” application within Providence Elementary School.

The Providence Elementary School Learning Support Program student population currently includes about 30-35 students and serves the needs of students in grades K-5 in academic learning in reading decoding, fluency, and comprehension; math computation and math fact fluency; sight word practice, handwriting, spelling, and study skill practices. Our Learning Support Program is currently outfitted with two Learning Support teachers and five para-professionals. Each teacher is dedicated to the academic growth and success of our students to meet a wide range of needs, learning abilities, and cognitive developments in both direct instruction and related practice sessions. The grant was highly successful because it was used in a variety of positive ways including serving as additional support during direct instruction sessions, a mobile related practice as the aides worked with the students in the areas of reading, math, spelling, writing, etc., a positive behavior reward system support, and even to aid in student research for a variety of our students required projects such as the 5th grade state fair and 4th grade wax museum projects. The students loved the interactive features of the OSMO. I look forward to even ways to encourage student growth next year through the use of our OSMO application!

To each of the members of the Solanco Education Foundation, who believed in our goal and grant within the Learning Support Project at Providence Elementary, thank you!