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Teachers, students benefit from grants

This spring about 30 South Whidbey Primary first- and second-graders will be exploring the back 40 acres behind their school.

To get a closer look at the flora and fauna, the students from teacher Linda Garl’s multi-age class will each have a magnifying glass. Slung around their necks will be binoculars for bird-watching.

It’s all because Garl’s “Snooper Duper” science program is getting a boost from the South Whidbey Schools Foundation grant program.

Garl, who received $400 to fund her science program, was one of 17 teachers receiving grants for special classroom projects. The foundation awarded a total of $11,545 in December.

“The magnifying glasses were just ordered and it will take about two weeks,” Garl said.

At Bayview School, three teachers — Jean Shaw, Scott Mauk and Eric Hood — each received grants.

For math teacher Hood, the $900 grant means he can buy software licenses for SketchUp, a 3D design program used by architects, contractors and landscape designers, and bring in local architect John Arnold to help students learn about the software.

For the math students, it offers a new way of learning spacial visualization.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” said Ahren Bader-Jarvis. “I am really enjoying this. It helps you see and understand dimensional shapes.”

The students are learning how to design scale models and buildings with the software.

District teachers were notified of the grant awards in December.

Dave Haworth, president of the foundation, dressed in a tuxedo and white tennis shoes, presented the checks to teachers. The routine has become familiar, and the students and teachers know as soon as they see the men wearing big smiles and carrying balloons that the South Whidbey Schools Foundation is once again delivering checks to fund innovative teaching projects.

Grants included funding for projects on every campus and covering the reading, science, technology and arts curriculum areas.

“It’s always such fun to create a festive and rewarding event for our schools,” said Haworth.

“It’s great to see the excitement when we walk into a classroom and the teachers and students know who we are and why we are there,” he said.

The community partnership between the South Whidbey schools and the non-profit foundation began when a group of concerned citizens realized an additional source of funding was necessary to encourage staff and students to extend the reach for excellence beyond the usual classroom experience.

“The foundation’s criteria for funding grant applications gives priority to projects which are repeatable, innovative and serve the greatest number of students,” Haworth said. “We are proud to support a variety of educational projects which otherwise would not exist.”

The non-profit organization was formed in 1995 and receives tax-exempt donations from individuals and firms for use in programs to enrich the offerings of the South Whidbey School District.

Over $50,000 has been awarded since 1996.

Businesses, corporations and individuals are invited to contribute to the Foundation Endowment Fund. All donations are tax deductible. Information can be obtained by contacting the Foundation at PO Box 27, Clinton, 98236 or by visiting the Website at www.southwhidbeyschoolsfoundation.org.

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