Eight Calvert County schools will be receiving some extra funds after being named recipients of the Calvert School Foundation grants to foster creative approaches to education.
The board of directors awarded eight grants for a total of $12,899.83. There were 29 submitted proposals.
“This is the kind of benefit we hoped to see when we created this foundation,” Superintendent Daniel J. Curry said in a news release. “Thanks to the board [members] for their strong support.”
Dowell Elementary School math teacher Megan Zebron was awarded $770 for a family math night program.
“I just think there’s a lot of research out there that shows when there’s a strong home and school connection that academically, and socially students do better,” said Zebron, who collaborated with Principal Jason Patton. “I’d seen it done at other schools and thought ‘This would be a good idea,’ and I also really want to help strengthen the community.”
The program will be held after school and will include dinner, snacks, educational sessions, and a take-home bag full of math manipulatives, such as toothpicks, a deck of cards and learning charts.
“With what we do now in math we know there’s a strong correlation if students are able to touch things physically with the retention and understanding the math concept,” said Zebron, who is in her first year at Dowell after stints at Mt. Harmony Elementary and Plum Point Middle School. “These will help with math homework and how to build those strong math minds at home. So when the kids come home and don’t always remember a strategy, the parents won’t have to scrounge around trying to figure out what’s going on.”
Zebron, who graduated from Northern High School in 2008 and earned her masters in special education from the University of Maryland in 2014, said an inaugural session will be held in early spring.
“A lot of changes have happened through the system with math specifically,” she told The Calvert Recorder. “In math nowadays there’s a lot of options, it’s not just a cut-and-dried ‘do it this way because that’s what we told you to do,’ so it’s letting the parents know those options and educating and also having fun with it.”
Patuxent High School’s Shana Brickner and Bonnie Brown received $2,000 for a student voice initiative, which a news release said will “create a more welcoming environment for all students by fostering an environment of safety where students are heard, and diversity is accepted.”
Brown and four students attended a Teach to Lead Summit conference in Washington to find ways to improve the advisory time for next year.
“The student team quickly realized the problem was that the advisories were teacher-led and missing the student’s voice,” Brown wrote in an email to The Calvert Recorder. “In addition, last year, there was no student input regarding the curriculum [so] our student team decided we needed to restructure our advisory. We needed to change the name to Student Voice Initiative because that is what we want; we want to hear from the students. We believe that students are our best chance to invoke change in our school, so why not empower them to speak up? Second, we needed student input regarding the curriculum, so the students planned all the lessons and worked hard to represent the many types of students at Patuxent High School.”
Brown said she and Brickner plan to spend the money on incentives for the SVI groups, attending the 2020 Teach to Lead conference, the cost of an adult to both run the summer training and in-school field trip curriculum day, and tee shirts and lunches.
Cristin Williams was awarded a grant of $570.06 for a Peace Room at Calvert Elementary School, which a release said would “be available to all students and will be a positive model of the implementation of restorative practice strategies and an outward example of the value that Calvert Elementary has on building relationships.”
Barstow Elementary School’s Leigh Cox received a $2,000 grant for a Yoga for Kids program, which the release said is designed to “enrich the standard physical education curriculum to be more inclusive and relevant to students of all ages and diverse capabilities.”
Jayme Pieretti and Cheslie Williams of Huntingtown High School received a $2,000 grant for a program titled Creating Citizens: The Production and Implementation of Targeted Interventions to Increase the Achievement Rates of Struggling Populations in the Maryland Government HSA.
The release said teachers in the program will develop common practices utilizing the Learning-Focused Model and one-to-one technology to address the needs of diverse learners taking the American Government course.
Huntingtown Elementary School’s Megan Ells Perry was awarded a grant for $2,000 Embracing Cultural Diversity through the Arts.
The program will allow all students in grades K to 5 to attend a theater performance of Cirque Zuma Zuma.
Calvert Elementary School teacher Rachel Hull received $1,814.89 for dry erase whiteboard tables, which will allow students to freely share what they know through discussion and in writing while they learn collaboratively with the teacher as facilitator.
Tracey Bensing from Beach Elementary School was awarded $1,744.88 for a community mural, which will provide a public arts festival for the Chesapeake Beach community to celebrate the lifestyle and ecosystem living in and near the Chesapeake Bay and oceans.
The Calvert School Foundation provides a source of supplemental funding for Calvert County Public Schools through donations and community involvement.
The resources will be allocated for innovative educational programs that foster creative approaches to teaching and learning.
Members of the Board of Directors of the Foundation include vice president and branch market manager of Community Bank of the Chesapeake Bonnie Barrett, Calvert Retired School Personnel Association president Barbara McKimmie, Calvert Education Association president Dona Ostenso, Calvert Collaborative for Children & Youth president Guffrie Smith, Bayside Toyota general manager Mark Wanamaker and Victoria Samuels of the Educational Systems Federal Credit Union.