Education Foundation gives great teachers grants for unique learning opportunities
If you want compelling evidence that our public schools have an abundance of great teachers who go the extra mile to inspire their students, I invite you to browse the classroom grant applications teachers submit to the North Central Education Foundation.
Since 2008, NCEF has provided $300 classroom grants to creative teachers who are passionate about bringing innovative experiences to their students. The foundation in November will be awarding nearly $50,000 for 99 grants involving 186 North Central Washington teachers for 2023-24 school year.
But there are still 79 grants that NCEF was unable to fund, according to Eldene Wall, who manages the foundation. You can see a list of grant applications that have not been funded and, if you are so inclined, are encouraged to adopt one or more of the grants that touch your heart. To video the adoptable grants and make a donation, please access loveteachers.org.
On Nov. 14-15, the foundation will host events in Wenatchee, Soap Lake and Brewster to award this year’s teacher grants. Grant categories include cultural awareness, science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), music and arts, literacy, social emotional learning, and financial literacy. Financial support comes from key donors like North Cascades National Bank, the Community Foundation of NCW and the Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Quincy and Lake Chelan Rotary clubs, to name a few.
One of the cool classroom projects funded this year is teacher Bill Bertram’s 4th grade after-school rocketry program at Knolls Vista Elementary School in Moses Lake. Funds he gets from NCEF will be used to buy individual rocket kits.
As Bertram explains it in the grant application, students get to explore rocket motor thrust curves and altimeter data to determine the appropriate motor for their rocket. They use their knowledge of electrical currents and circuits to build their own launch controllers and then make visual observations of rocket flights and recovery. The KV Rocket Club, as it is known, is a coveted program at the school and has served to motivate and inspire students.
I also love the fact that Bertram uses the club to foster inclusion, frequently inviting fellow students from special education and migrant classrooms as well as some deserving third and fifth graders.
Bertram is a huge fan of the NCEF grant program. “Without the NCEF’s continued support, my little rocket club would be hard-pressed to flourish like it does,” he told me.
One of the latest innovations at the foundation is an opportunity for teachers in a district to write joint applications to fund collaborative educational efforts. This year, two teachers each from Wenatchee School District’s three middle schools, Foothills, Orchard and Pioneer, will receive funding to update their libraries with books to assist early language learners, according to Lois Davies, NCEF board president and retired Pateros superintendent.
Creating book clubs at the schools and connecting those clubs to the North Central Washington Libraries could ultimately lead to a strong partnership that better supports learning for those learning English in those middle schools.
Another collaborative project being funded this year in the Tonasket School District will connect elementary and high school students in a joint effort called Felt Monsters. Third graders will read the book “I Need My Monster” and create a drawing of a monster, which the high school students will use to create stuffed monsters that will be given to the students. What a fun way to connect learning across grade boundaries.
Rubbing elbows with and supporting innovative and dedicated teachers is what inspires board members like Davies and Jeff Kimbell. Kimbell, who moved to the valley several years ago with his wife, comes from a family of teachers. The Kimbells have been generous funders of individual grants.
Kimbell talks about his love for making a meaningful connection to teachers and their students. Many of the teachers and their students write thank you letters to sponsors and share how the experience impacted them. “That’s a pretty special part of it,” said Kimbell.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if as community members we could fund the rest of the teacher grants this year? For more information, contact Eldene Wall at [email protected].