Credit: Credit: Albemarle County Public Schools

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Two community-based programs highlight the Shannon Foundation grants received by Albemarle County Public Schools teachers this year. Eight schools will benefit from 11 grants totaling $12,344, and each proposal advances the school division’s project-based learning model.

The largest award of $4,982 was received by Western Albemarle High School’s robotics club. “With this grant, we will be able to expand into the community a range of hands-on learning activities such as the design, programming and building of robots and the use of 3D printers,” said the school’s career specialist, Caroline Bertrand, who submitted the grant proposal.

The grant will fuel biweekly STEM-related activities in local schools, libraries, and other community facilities, together with lesson plans that will allow learning experiences to be shared on a broader basis. Bertrand says the program will have two purposes: to involve and excite the interest of a wider group of students of all ages in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) projects and to develop higher leadership skills among the members of the robotics club, who will lead the STEM activities.

The second program is a community garden-to-table project at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School, which received $2,000. In a proposal offered by Adam Mohr, a multi-age teacher at the school, students in kindergarten through fifth grade will plant, care for, and harvest a vegetable garden; utilize their school kitchen spaces to clean, prepare and create healthy foods; and distribute the food to students in the school. There also is a plan for students to use fresh vegetables to prepare soups during the winter months.
“This is a fun, creative and effective way for students to learn about science, math, even history,” said Mohr. “We value helping students develop lifelong skills such as their creativity, being able to work in teams, and being able to solve problems. This will be an ideal learning laboratory.”

Adding to the project, Mohr said, will be the supporting role of parents and other members of the Agnor-Hurt community who will help with the garden’s development and recipes.
“The Shannon Foundation has been supporting creative teacher-initiated projects in the Charlottesville/Albemarle schools since 1990. By providing area teachers with grants, they are able to provide enhanced learning experiences for their students who otherwise would not benefit from these exciting new projects. We hope to continue our support for
Agnor-Hurt students participate in community garden-to-table project  many years to come,” said Jim Cooper, president of the Shannon Foundation.

Other grant recipients include Baker-Butler teachers Nancy Kendall Williams ($700 for a project to create replicas of early American Indian homes, and $593 for students to create musical instruments and toys in the style of Indian tribes); Lisa Harman ($353 to fund a program for second graders who will make puppets of famous early Americans); and Lisa Baker ($224 for tools for meteorological measurements).

Albemarle High School’s Tony Wayne received $750 for a summer engineering camp for middle school girls to build a footbridge for a community park; Anne Straume of Meriwether Lewis Elementary will receive $750 for second graders to study artists and create works of their own; and Terry Graff at Cale Elementary will receive $750 for second graders to work with robots.

Stone-Robinson’s Diane Goodrich will use her $628 grant to promote wider student use of the school library, and Karen Heathcock and Ray Chrobak at Broadus Wood will use their $604 grant to enable third, fourth and fifth graders to create virtual reality 3D films.