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Westerville Education Foundation Awards Innovation Grants

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Westerville Education Foundation (WEF) has announced that five Innovation Grants will be awarded at a program called “Celebration of Education, Innovation and Inspiration.”  The event will take place at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, April 17 at the Everal Barn & Homestead.  The latest grant recipients are:

  • Becky Haselberger, Best of Both Worlds (BOBW), $580 for “Providing Work Skills and Self Esteem through Collaboration and Photography.”  BOBW is a comprehensive transition program for Westerville City School students with various disabilities who have completed their high school core curriculum and socially graduated, yet do not hold diplomas, due to a need for work skills, community skills, and independent living skills.  BOBW operates a coat closet to provide free winter coats, hats and gloves to any student in need.  They hold coat drives, communicate with community organizations for supplies, and carry out inventory responsibilities.  They are creating a “virtual closet” to showcase the products that are available, and they hope to make their website resemble an online shopping experience.  To do so, they will use grant money to purchase gently used, professional grade photography equipment to create images of available items.

  • Kim Holter, Pointview Elementary School, $1,444.69 for “Preventing the Summer Reading Slide.”  (This is a Peter McCabe and Mary Sutherland Tait McCabe Grant, in honor of their commitment to education and to honor their granddaughter, Lorraine Siegworth, for her work with the WEF.)  Studies have shown that many students from middle and upper middle income households make slight gains in reading over summer months because their parents are able to provide them with appropriate reading material, read to them more, and access public libraries.  Children from low-income families, however, often lose more than two months in reading achievement during the summer.  Regardless of family income, it has been determined that reading four to five books over the summer is enough to prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall.  Pointview kindergarten and first grade staff wants to put books in the hands of 40 selected students during the summer by mailing them to their homes.  The books, which will be printed and compiled by teachers and parent volunteers, will be provided by current online subscriptions.  Grand funds will be used for postage, paper, envelopes and mailing labels. 

  • Jason McQuown, Alcott Elementary School, $2,200 for “Character Education/Content Introduction and Reinforcement.”  Alcott is in the early stages of cultivating a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) culture.  This grant will help provide educational tools to have an opening assembly at the beginning of the year and to continue to infuse character development within lessons in the classroom.  District values encompass respect, inclusiveness, community, communication, collaboration, innovation, nurturance, trust and accountability, all part of the PBIS culture.  Puppets, magic, music and drama will be used daily to support classroom content and character education.  At the end of the year, the culminating project will be a restaurant that is completely designed, operated and managed by first graders.  Funds will be used to purchase microphones, materials to construct a puppet stage, props, costumes and puppets. 

  • Bethany Morvay (Walnut Springs Middle School) and Jill Smith (Teacher on Special Assignment), $1,335 for “Bridging the Gap:  Middle School Writing Center Pilot.”  Recent research about writing points to the importance of collaborative learning and conferencing, which helps writers to find avenues to expression.  Walnut Springs will pilot a writing lab staffed by volunteer students and writing coaches from local universities.  The goal is to offer the lab two to three times per day during study halls on a rotating schedule to meet the needs of the largest student segment possible.  Objectives are to provide a resource for any student with any piece of writing; to assist teachers in developing the writing process in their respective content classes; and to train Walnut Springs students to work as coaches in the future.  The bulk if costs will be initial training, however after the pilot year it is anticipated that training will be generative and that the program will be self-sustaining and will incur no further costs. 

  • Jean Trimble, Walnut Springs Middle School, $653.82 for “Electronic Cutting Machine (Cricut Explore) for Makerspace.”  This year, makerspace was piloted in the school library for school projects ranging from posters to campaign buttons to experiments with lighting and movement (using parts recycled from old printers, computers and scanners).  This summer the Walnut Springs library will undergo extensive renovation, including the addition of a larger makerspace.  Trimble envisions this space being a place for students to go to not only work on school projects, but to also build on and continue the education they receive in the Engineering and Design course added to the middle schools in 2014.  The makerspace will be an area where pupils can work on coding, robotics and other STEM initiatives.  Having the necessary tools in the space is crucial.  The new Fab Labs contain a vinyl cutting machine that only students in the Engineering course are able to use.  Grand funds will be used to add a smaller, less-expensive tool to the makerspace, the Cricut Explore, for student and teacher use. 

The WEF is an independent, volunteer, non-profit organization, founded in 1993 for the purpose of enhancing the education of Westerville students.  Its primary goal is to promote educational initiatives undertaken by employees in the Westerville City School District.  WEF grants are the longest-established component of the group’s GAP (Grants, Adoption, Programs) funding initiatives.  Tax-deductible contributions received by the Foundation fund grants to district educators to enable them to implement significant and transformational educational initiatives.  Grants are also available to other district employees to support innovative activities or programming.

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