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Foundation awards $10K in grants
March 24, 2017

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The Poland Schools Foundation for Educational Excellence recently awarded about $10,000 in classroom grants that will benefit all five school buildings in the district for 2017.

The foundation and school board members March 6 joined the teachers who received the funds for their individual projects.

"We had taken off a couple of years while the schools went through redistricting," foundation President Luke Politsky said. "Now, there is more of a team atmosphere that is reflected in the grant applications. The projects benefit many classes instead of just one."

With the grant, Poland kindergarteners will have immediate access to iPad technology as they learn to use desktop and Chromebooks under a project written by kindergarten teacher Katie Cirelli.

"The iPad is the gateway towards accessing Chromebooks," Cirelli said. "It allows as much hands-on as you can have on a flat screen."

Her grant covered the cost of 12 iPads and two charging stations. The iPads are designed to be child-proof with rubber-like frames that can handle an accidental drop.

The second project involves the Dobbins third- and fourth-graders with cross-curricular enrichment through the Junior Achievement Program. The program, the concept of Dobbins teachers Michelle Landers and Holly Wilson, will cover county standards and budgeting.

Landers and Wilson said the students will get a real jump start on how finances work.

"We will have local business leaders coming in to work with the kids," Wilson said.

The third project involved materials, books and bringing in a guest author. The eighth-grade classes of Abby Aebischer and Haley Shaffer were able to schedule a visit from award-winning children's author Nora Raleigh Baskin, who wrote "Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story," which focuses on the days leading up to the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and then how that day impacted students.

"Our students read the book, and we contacted the author," Shaffer said. "She waived her speaker's fee, and all we had to cover was her travel costs. She came to the middle school and held two assemblies and went room to room."

The fourth project involved the high school media students and classes. Media instructor Pat Williams was able to get some advanced equipment such as the broadcast switcher.

"This switcher allows students to easily switch from one camera to another," Williams said. "We were also able to purchase monitors for on top of our cameras to give students a more realistic broadcasting experience."

The additional equipment included a TriCaster 40 Mini Control Surface and the camera top monitors. A multi-camera production system also was part of the purchase to produce professional video productions.

The fifth project, also at the high school, was one submitted by Theresa Smith and Madison Gessler. Their goal was to purchase a new website for the school newspaper, The Seminarian.

"This will allow our students to publish their articles online," Smith said. "It will give us a bigger audience; in fact, anyone in the world will be able to read The Seminarian."

Two other funded projects included a new math manipulatives for first-graders and a STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - project for McKinley Elementary and middle school classes.

The STEM project included purchasing littleBits STEAM Student Sets, a powerful toolbox to inspire invention-based learning through circuit building and engineering principles.

Politsky said the Poland Schools Foundation for Educational Excellence was formed in 1991 and since that time, it has provided more than $300,000 to Poand schools through grants to educators and funds for equipment and special projects.

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