Bearing bright balloons and a bounty of good news, South Whidbey Schools Foundation Board members joyfully notified 19 teachers Thursday that their grant dreams had come true.
After raising a record-setting $39,904, board members selected almost two dozen projects to fund what wouldn’t occur without “generous community support.”
Board President Shelly Ackerman, Vice President Clyde Monma and board members Jean Shaw and Cynthia Shelton made the rounds at elementary, middle and high school classrooms to let students know their teachers earned a top grade in educational innovation.
The nonprofit awards teachers financial support to “foster educational excellence and innovative process for the benefit of students.” It also recognizes teaching excellence with annual awards and accepts corporate, individual and government grants and donations on behalf of the school district.
Grants include funding for a marine engineering project, a global cultures experience and an elementary school “It’s Cool to be Kind” project.
Restarting the middle and high school ceramics program and providing an enhanced elementary school music curriculum are also in the works, thanks to the grants. Awards ranged from $250 to $5,000.
“The Foundation gave our Visual Arts program $5,000 for three new pottery wheels and a year’s supply of clay,” said Samuel Mirkovich, high school arts teacher. “I’m so thankful that this community supports the arts.”
Foundation funds were raised through year-end donations, the annual foundation gala, two dine-out programs and the foundation’s Adopt-a-Grant program.
One approved project for the school year will take kids on a whale watching field trip to learn about the watershed and to study micro-plastics’ impact on Puget Sound.
Some teachers received more than one grant.
Fifth-grade teacher John LaVassar, who had just taken fifth and sixth graders on a Salish Sea Sailing Expedition in September to explore the health of Puget Sound, learned his other projects also received funding — the Salmon Leadership Project and “Mr. Good: Mad, Fun Scientist.”
Fourth-grade teacher Rachel Kizer received funding to connect students with local history with field trips to local museums and the Tulalip Tribes Hibulb Cultural Center. She also received funding to visit a planetarium.
Since its inception in 1994, the South Whidbey Schools Foundation has funded nearly $285,000 in teacher-requested projects and materials, said treasurer John Riley.