Foundation awards grants to teachers

Article Published: Oct. 19, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

The volunteers of the Watauga Education Foundation are again partnering with innovative teachers in Watauga County to benefit students.

Through its annual grant initiative, 20-plus instructors from Watauga County Schools will receive $20,000 to raise the teaching bar.

"We had 29 applications," said allocations chair Emily Greene. "The winners were chosen based upon a points system that takes into account student need, objectives, number of students receiving the service and, of most importance, creativity and innovation."

The projects this year range from "Bring a Veteran to School Day at Parkway Elementary," to a volunteer-run science club at Valle Crucis Elementary.

"Teaching our children lessons outside preparation for the end-of-grade test is critical," said Watauga Education Foundation president Jay Fenwick. "We look for initiatives that either go beyond the basics, or significantly enhance the curriculum."

Kindergarteners at Mabel Elementary School will have a new soft rug on which to read.

At Blowing Rock, eighth-grade instructor Wendy Smith will enhance her chemistry lessons. "My hope that as a result of this unit, students will develop an interest in and understand the relationships among the different branches of chemistry," Smith said.

"Specifically, they will learn that their own well-being and the well-being of our planet depends on their understanding of the properties of matter and how matter interacts," she said.

At Bethel Elementary School, the seventh- and eighth-graders will learn robotics.

And at Green Valley Elementary School, the students will have I-Pods and e-books to improve literacy. "The target group for this project will be students who are struggling readers," Green Valley principal Phillip Griffin said. "They will not be the only students allowed to check out the I-Pods. All students at all levels can benefit from having exemplary reading modeled to them. "

At Hardin Park Elementary School, third-graders will benefit from math story books, and first-graders will receive new plant and animal science kits.

Cove Creek Elementary School students will incorporate literature with art.

"Perhaps the most unusual grant this year is for 'Leapin' Lagomorphs!,'" Greene said. "We are purchasing show stock for the animal and agri-science classes. They'll be breeding pedigreed mini-Rex rabbits. Now, that is definitely creative!"

The grants, which must be used during the 2008-2010 school year, also again include funding for a Battle of the Books competition at every grade school.

"We are able to make these grants because of local contributions from individuals and businesses. This year, more than ever we need the community to give what they can," Fenwick said. "School budgets were cut significantly. Our schools lost 50 positions, and supplies and equipment allocations have been seriously slashed. The Watauga Education Foundation doesn't fund state and local budgets, but we can, and do, create bright spots for students and teachers."

Donations to the foundation are tax deductible.

The Watauga Education Foundation has been raising funds for Watauga County public schools since 1989. It has distributed more than $1 million to area schools.

The foundation also accepts donations for the Kate Swift Reese Endowed Scholarship, which will provide an annual college scholarship to a deserving Watauga County student.

Contributions can be made online by going to http://www.

Families can also contribute by attending one of the Watauga Education Foundation's upcoming fundraisers. There's Flapjack Flip, a pancake breakfast and raffle at WHS on Dec. 12 from 7:30 to 11 a.m. "It's a delicious way to start the day before the downtown Boone holiday parade," a foundation spokesperson said.

"And you don't want to miss the juried talent program; Shooting Stars will again be held at Farthing Auditorium on April 16, 2010. To find out how you can get involved and make a difference in a student's life, please contact Melanie Bullard at 828-268-1273 or ( ," the spokesperson said.

Among the grant recipients and projects are:

? Mary Ruth Hagaman and Chris King - Learning Through Inquiry: Students Become Scientists! Valle Crucis Elementary School.
? Wendy Nicholson and Janice Hensley - Connect/Play/Read to Achieve. Valle Crucis Elementary School.
? Susan Coffey - Bring a Vet to School Day. Parkway Elementary School.
? Patty Buckner, Darcy Grimes, Jenny Ward and Pat Warren - Becoming a Mad Scientist Project. Bethel Elementary School.
? Shannon Carroll, Josephine Sorrell, Sharon Breitenstein, Michael Robbins, Susan Brookshire and Pace Cooper - Mabel's Multimedia Mentors. Mabel Elementary School.
? Wendy Smith - Chemistry Matters. Blowing Rock Elementary School.
? Eunice Johnson - Robotics. Bethel Elementary School.
? April Eichmiller - Learning through Fun & Games. Green Valley Elementary School.
? Phillip Griffin, April Eichmiller and Gail Richards - I Will Read! Green Valley Elementary School.
? Jenny McCourry - Bringing Science to Life - Inquiry Based Learning. Hardin Park Elementary School.
? Shelley Armour - Leapin' Lagomorphas! Breeding Pedigreed Mini Rex Rabbit Show Stock. Watauga High School.
? Stephanie Pollard and Kathy Moore - Reading with an i-pod: Creating Fluent Readers. Blowing Rock Elementary School.
? Kelly Beckley - Who Puts that Math Problem in My Story? Hardin Park Elementary School.

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