Washington Street Parent Team surprises teachers with grants for education projects
HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Washington Street Elementary School’s Parent Team surprised three teachers recently with more than $2,000 in grant funding to enhance the learning experiences of their students.
The three teachers, Letitia McLeod, Stephen Smith and Tracie Bean, submitted grant applications to the Parent Team that outlined educational projects they wanted to fund. The Parent Team reviewed the applications and chose their three projects. Last week, the Parent Team stopped by the classrooms with checks and plenty of smiles.
McLeod received $599 for a one-year, school-wide subscription to Adventure to Fitness, an online education program that integrates physical exercise with academics. Smith received $675 to fund the purchase of hardware and software for a fitness program for students. Bean’s grant totaled $750 and will fund a field trip for students to EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia.
Valerie Sawyer, principal at Washington Street Elementary, said the physical and educational benefits of the funded projects align with academic standards as well as physical and social pathways outlined in the Comer School Development Program. She thanked the parents for their dedication to Washington Street’s students.
“The Parent Team is really the backbone of the school,” Sawyer said. “They have really developed over the past few years to be an integral part of what we do. Through this grant process, I feel that we’ve not only empowered teachers but also we’ve funded those ideas. Many times that doesn’t happen. I’m very appreciative of all the work the parents do to make these things happen.”
The Parent Team holds a fundraiser each October and traditionally funds one project at the school. Last year the team purchased playground equipment. Mandee Thompsen, a member of the Parent Team, said the group decided to test the grant program this year.
“We’re here to support the teachers, the parents and the school,” she said. “I’m thrilled. It was exciting to do it this way and to build more relationships with the teachers in the school.”
Thompsen said she hopes more teachers will be encouraged to apply for Parent Team grants next year.
Bean’s project, the field trip to EdVenture, will send a few dozen young students to Columbia to experience the children’s museum. Bean praised the Parent Team for making the grant program a reality for teachers.
“The Washington Street Elementary Parent Team grant has been a blessing,” Bean said. “It afforded us the opportunity to visit EdVenture Children’s Museum, where the students will engage in interactive experiences involving exploration of the senses. I cannot say enough about what it means when the parents in the community come together to support the education of the students. Our children are very excited.”
The subscription to Adventure to Fitness, which was McLeod’s project, will make streaming videos available for every class in the school. Each 30-minute video features educational adventures in geography, history, ELA, math, science and health, while infusing physical activity with the lessons.
Smith’s project involves purchasing an Xbox 360, a controller, a game, dance pads, pedometers and other equipment for his project titled “Dancing Our Way to Healthier Lives.” The game, Dance Dance Revolution, will allow his physical education students to get the most physical movement within the shortest amount of time inside a classroom. He began seeking funding for the project in January through DonorsChoose.org/Stephen.Smith. Gracious donors have pledged nearly $800 to date for the project. With the Parent Team grant, the project will be fully funded.
Katie Flaherty, another member of the Parent Team with a child that attends Washington Street, thanked the school for working its continual support of the group.
“I really want to applaud the administration here for letting us participate in this,” Flaherty said. “Parents know their money from fundraising is going to a specific purpose. It was really empowering for the parents. I think it’s wonderful.”
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