Catawba County Schools Education Foundation Awards Inaugural “Innovation Grants”
Foundation aims to support innovative educators to realize their visions for student success.
NEWTON, NC, December 18, 2019 – Three schools in Catawba County, North Carolina, were the recipients of the Education Foundation for Catawba County Schools’ inaugural “Innovation Grants.” The grants will be awarded annually to exceptional educators who are driving innovation and student engagement in new and exciting ways in their respective schools and roles.
The Education Foundation is only at the beginning of its second year of existence and was able to award $5,000 in Innovation Grants this year, with plans to quadruple this amount in the near future. These grants were made possible by donations from local businesses like Corporate Armor of Newton, individuals, and charity foundations that believe in the foundation’s mission to improve student success by investing in the district’s teachers.
Catawba Elementary received $3,000 to purchase robots as an innovative way to teach North Carolina Standards; Balls Creek Elementary received $1,500 to purchase ukuleles to help keep older students engaged in music education: and Mountain View Elementary received $500 to purchase two sets of “Hands-on Equations,” a math program designed to “gamify” fractions and make learning fractions fun.
“Our Foundation, at just two years old, is in its infancy. Yet, we’re working with a start-up like urgency to ensure that our students and educators receive the benefit of every dollar we raise as soon as possible,” said board director, Luke Walling. “Our Innovation Grants follow in that spirit, honoring the gracious individuals as well as the corporate and foundation donors that have supported us by ensuring the dollars we receive go right back into our community rapidly to create a meaningful and lasting impact.”
Using grant proceeds, Catawba Elementary School’s Kathleen Pesce, 6th-grade science teacher, and Amanda Swengros, Media Coordinator, plan to bring together science, technology, and character-building activities by blending robotics together with real-world activities. The class will plan and build a garden, then use the robots they will be purchasing with their grant to create a virtual tour of their garden. Finally, students will present what they have learned in a group setting at NCTIES, a large conference in our state’s capitol.
Balls Creek Elementary School’s Whitney McIntosh, music teacher, is working to engage students in music throughout their lives using their grant proceeds to purchase ukuleles. Ms. McIntosh’s purpose was to place an emphasis on integrating instruments into the program to keep older students excited about music toward the end of their elementary school career. “It was clear that Mrs. McIntosh is on a mission to keep kids engaged in the musical arts, well after they leave her care,” said Walling.
Mountain View Elementary School’s Shelly Hagy, Academic Facilitator, and Ruth Kiser, 5th-grade science teacher, are using their grant dollars to help purchase the program, “Hands-on Equations.” This nationally-recognized program implements innovative ways to engage students in learning difficult concepts in math through gamification and more. Students can learn about algebraic equations by using game pieces to set the equations up and make “legal moves” resulting in the student physically solving the problems, using a pictorial visualization strategy, and more.
“We are thankful for our Education Foundation and the many donors supporting it that allow our Educators to receive these funds to inspire our students learning,” said Dr. Matt Stover, Superintendent, Catawba County Schools.
The Education Foundation is just getting started and is focused on creating a meaningful impact on our community through students and educators alike. The Innovation Grant program is just one of many ways the foundation is making an impact. Learn more about our mission and the support we provide to Catawba County Schools at www.ccs-foundation.org.
ABOUT THE EDUCATION FOUNDATION FOR CATAWBA COUNTY SCHOOLS:
The mission of the Education Foundation is to fuel growth and performance in our Catawba County Schools system of 28 schools by providing scholarships and grants for our teachers to learn new, engaging, and research-based strategies to continue to improve student success. Additionally, we provide college scholarship opportunities for our students to become educators themselves. The support that the Education Foundation provides also helps attract and retain the most engaging, inspiring, and empowering teachers to our school system.