The Warren County Educational Endowment awarded 11 grants for 2021 totaling $46,721 to the Warren County Public School System.
Grants were awarded for the following projects:
- Engaging and Reaching Students on their Levels (Nearpod) – Ginger Newton/ LFK – $397 – This program allows teachers to offer differentiation for their students while keeping them engaged, allowing the teachers to meet their students on their levels. Teachers can create live presentations that they can present on their screen and their students’ screens at the same time; teachers are in control of the slides, and students are not able to move forward until the teacher switches slides. By them being able to see the slides on their computer, it eliminates the issue of not being able to see the board. Teachers can launch a white board during their presentation and write on it, and it will show up on their students' screens. For absent students or individual time, teachers can setup a student pace presentation. Both of these provide reports and allow teachers to see what their students know. One of the other great features is the Microsoft Immersive Reader which is perfect for students who struggle with reading or English Language Learner (ELL) students who require read-alouds. It allows teachers to meet their needs without drawing attention to them. The collaborative board also allows students to answer questions anonymously, which is perfect for the ones who are shy or worried about their answers, and it gives everyone a chance to participate.
Another feature of Nearpod is the Virtual Reality (VR) field trips, bringing the subject matter to life, as well as creating or using the interactive videos Nearpod has to offer. It keeps students engaged and on task as they have to answer questions throughout the video to show understanding. Another cool feature of Nearpod is “Time to Climb”, which is a gamified quiz. Students get to pick their own character, and as they answer questions correctly, their character climbs up the hill, and the one at the top at the end of the game wins.
- Focusing on an Abundance of Achievement – Justyne Louk and Faith Falkenstein/Special Services – $15,000 – The goal of this program is to identify and support gifted and talented learners as well as high achieving students by providing them with the educational opportunities to meet their maximum potential. Ensuring gifted/high achieving student growth and achievement by developing higher level thinking skills, developing creative thinking and problem-solving skills, and developing effective and advanced communication skills. Weekly Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) challenges and science enrichment activities, student collaboration in coding, games, rain gardens, an annual community outreach project, and more. Elementary high achievers County‐wide, as well as classroom enrichment activities upon teacher request.
- Let’s Get Moving – Allison Filandino/Special Services – $5,000 – The goal of this project is to add adaptive equipment resources to allow special education students to be more active during their school day. The facilitator will work with each Tier 3 classroom teacher and Physical Education (PE) teachers at each school to order adaptive equipment to encourage more activity during their school day. Most schools allow kids to have open gym time, but do not have equipment that kids are interested in or can always use effectively. Middle schools and high schools would receive a lower basketball hoop attachment and a bowling ramp/set. Elementary schools would receive a play tunnel, roller tunnel, large inflatable bowling, and soccer sets. The facilitator will work with the classroom/PE teacher to ensure these options would work best or if the teachers have other ideas that would interest their students.
- Turning the Corner – Michael Williams/EWM – $5,600 – The goal of this program is to facilitate and celebrate the success of at-risk 4th and 5th Grade students who meet certain behavioral and humanitarian benchmarks of success throughout the 2021-22 School Year and to promote trust among these students in the fall of 2022 and to track their success as they progress to the next grade level or to middle school. This grant will impact 50 of the most challenged 4th and 5th grade students who have earned the privilege to celebrate success.
- 6th Grade Reading – Grace Croson/SMS – $330 – The goal of this program is to build strong readers, writers, and thinkers. Thirty (30) copies of digital and print Scholastic Scope magazines will be made available to students at Skyline Middle School. Teachers will use the magazines in the classroom to create lessons. Teachers will collaborate to build lessons and activities for middle school language arts classes.
- Sensory Room Updates – Samantha Morrison/WCMS – $1,200 – The goal of these updates is to enhance the current sensory room that is intended to help students calm down and refocus during the school day. Having a designated sensory room is beneficial for all students. Using the sensory room provides students with an opportunity to take a break from the classroom which helps them refocus or calm down so when they do return to class it is with a positive attitude. During the 2021-2022 school year at Warren County Middle School, the sensory room was relocated to a larger space to accommodate more students. Now, with a larger room, more sensory items are needed to help fill the space. The facilitator will work to provide students with a variety of sensory‐related activities that they can partake in while visiting the sensory room. The funds from this grant would enhance the current sensory‐related activities by including the creation of sensory bins, sensory mats, fidget blanket, numerous calming gadgets, and more. By filling the sensory room with these items, students will be given an enhanced opportunity to regain their focus, which helps them when it comes to attending to their studies.
- Trout in the Classroom – Raise and Release – Ben Bailey/SMS – $1,644 – This program will teach students about and expose them to the lifecycle of the Brook Trout through lessons on cells up to local ecology, while increasing student interest in conservation. In partnership with Trout Unlimited in the fall of each year, the program sends 200 Brook Trout eggs to hatch in an aquarium. Then in the spring of each year and with the guidance of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, the small fry will be released into a locally stocked trout stream within the County. Through the process of hatching the eggs and raising the fry, students will have real‐life examples during the school year as they progress through these State standards. The students will utilize this project by collecting data and creating graphs, making predictions, explaining cell theory and division, structural organization, factors that affect the Brook Trout Ecosystems locally, adaptions the Brook Trout will need to survive in its ecosystem, what factors affect the ecosystem, and what the human impact has on the ecosystem of the local environment.
- ServSafe Certification for Elements Students – Katie Priest/Elements Program – $150 – The goal of this program is to have all ELEMENTS students certified in Food Handling. Servsafe Food Handler online course and assessment is a comprehensive solution that delivers consistent food safety training. This certification would help special education students gain the knowledge and the credentials they need to achieve competitive employment in the food service industry. The course covers five key areas: Basic Food Safety, Personal Hygiene, Cross‐Contamination & Allergens, Time and Temperature, Cleaning and Sanitation. At the end of the course, the students will be presented with a certificate that they will be able to take to future interviews for employment.
- Recycling Club Carts – Jen Davis/WCMS – $800 – This program will provide carts for the student‐led recycling club in order to make recycling at Warren County Middle School (WCMS) more efficient. WCMS has started a recycling club in order to help the school reduce its waste. Every Friday, students who are part of the club collect the recycling from classrooms and offices, sort it to ensure there is no trash contamination, and place the recycling in the shed outside. Students in the club are very passionate about recycling and helping to make the world a better place, one small step at a time. Currently, the club only has one large cart. The club has been using smaller carts, but the recycling falls off, and it takes a lot longer to collect and dump because the students must make many more trips. Having two more larger carts will allow students to collect recycling in a timely and more efficient manner.
- Brighter Futures Recess and Playground Area – Randa Vernazza/Brighter Futures – up to $15,000 match – The goal of this project is to align with Warren County Public Schools policy (IC‐ID) to provide elementary school students with a daily recess where students can benefit from the positive mental and physical outcomes associated with play. Students at Brighter Futures could benefit from the mental and physical outcomes associated with play. Recess offers opportunities for children to learn and enhance communication skills, negotiation, cooperation, sharing, problem solving, perseverance, self‐control, and conflict resolution according to a Stanford University study. These are skills that the non‐traditional elementary students need to develop to be successfully academically and behaviorally. In addition, students would enjoy the opportunity to exert energy in a healthy way.
- The Use of Happy Atoms to Support Kinesthetic Learners – Emma Vanderlinden/WCMS – $1,600 – Through the use of Happy Atoms, a chemistry education manipulative, this program will facilitate student exploration of atomic structure with real‐world application. These sets of reusable, magnetic atoms are paired with iPads (which are already provided through Warren County Middle School) to create an augmented reality, game structured scenario. These sets will then be used in groups of two or three students to promote discovery learning by trial and error based off of the knowledge they have about atoms. These sets would be shared between the other science classes in the building to maximize usage. Students will learn skills of problem solving, teamwork, and critical thinking through exploration with these sets.
The Endowment is a catalyst for improving the education and learning environment in Warren County Public Schools. Sometimes it takes private support of public efforts to incubate an idea or a new approach that helps students compete in a global marketplace, instills passion for life-long learning, and sparks a vision to strive for success. Programs funded by the Endowment are sponsored by our school system and are consistent with its mission and direction. They are intended to initiate sustained improvement in the fundamental capability of the school system and enhance the attractiveness of the community through the promotion of educational excellence.
Endowment President George Karnes stated, “The Warren County Educational Endowment was formed in 1996 to provide seed money for creative learning ideas brought forth by Warren County teachers and staff. Since our inception, we have awarded 178 grants totaling $628,545.97 and are pleased to continue to support Warren County Public Schools for the 2021-2022 school year with grant awards totaling $46,721.”
According to School Superintendent Dr. Chris Ballenger, “The Warren County Educational Endowment continues to be a great partner of Warren County Public Schools. Without this partnership, many programs and opportunities for our students may not be possible. The funding provided by the Endowment enables our school system to create exciting learning opportunities, develops strong community-based programs, and creates a supportive learning environment. I am excited to partner with such a dedicated group that has the vision and the desire to see our schools succeed. The Endowment’s direct impact on our division is immeasurable. We are thankful for their support.”