Last updated: December 27. 2013 4:21PM - 913 Views
By - dbroyles@civitasmedia.com



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Christmas might be past, but the Surry County Schools Educational Foundation still has a present or two of sorts in the form of mini-grants for county teachers who want to pair classroom learning with real-world situations.


“Application deadlines and guidelines are being developed and will probably be finalized and approved at the Jan. 27 board meeting,” said Foundation Liason Melissa White. She explained the foundation has earmarked $5,000 for the mini grants with a maximum of $500 for the individual grants.


She said she feels teachers will not only benefit by using the grants to improve ties with local business partners and learn real-world expectations and needs for its future workforce but students will benefit by a new range of learning opportunities opened up by sharing and applying this knowledge in the curriculum.


“My research indicates mini grants have been used successfully by other foundations,” White said. “This is a strong program with a lot of potential and it could grow as our fund raising grows. It’s all about STEM opportunities (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for our students. We are all winners in the end with this because of everyone who is involved.”


She said with the funds already allocated, ten grants could be awarded. White said information on the grants will be posted on the foundation website and Facebook page as soon as the guidelines and application form is approved so educators need only visit one web site to get the information and file their application.


Preliminary descriptions of the program indicate 25 teachers could use their grant money to travel to local businesses and bring back real world knowledge to incorporate in their classrooms and curriculum.


According to Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Jill Reinhardt, the goal of the project is to find ways that science, technology engineering and math are applied and is known as “STEMmersion.”


Reinhardt said the program also hopes to give students learning tools for the future, which will, no doubt, include many new types of jobs. Typically a grant recipient would spend two days in a business learning of issues and facets of the work done there. A third day would be used by the educator to evaluate and “pull it all together” to enhance what is being learned in their classroom.


The use of information software by the system gives teachers the potential to collaborate and incorporate these refinements and improvements to the lesson plans for other students. Reinhardt said a similar program in Wilkes County is being funded by the area’s economic development partnership. School Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves spoke about the proposed STEMmersion program at the Foundation’s last board meeting.


“This is a great program for our teachers,” said Reeves. “In many cases we don’t know what these companies do inside their walls. We want our teachers to understand the opportunities for Surry County students and the opportunities for internships.”


Persons may contact the foundation at whitem@surry.k12.nc.us or by calling 336-386-8211.


The Surry County Schools Educational Foundation began in January 2011. The foundation was created by a group of local business leaders who believe investing in children’s education will impact the future of Surry County’s economy. The Educational Foundation’s mission is to increase the level of education by helping county students pursue higher education and rewarding teachers with professional learning opportunities for extraordinary classroom projects.


Reach David Broyles at dbroyles@civitasmedia.com or 336-719-1952.

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