Grants from the Community Foundation of Jackson County will sprout gardening projects at two local schools this semester.
Students with autism will create and maintain a garden at Emerson Elementary School in Seymour this spring thanks to a Classroom Education Grant awarded by the foundation.
It is one of 14 such grants presented this winter to help teachers innovate in their classrooms, said foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Davis.
Several other classroom grants awarded in this latest round of funding will help teachers cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis added.
Special education teacher Gracie Lewis and Assistant Principal Kate DuBois submitted the Emerson grant application, which outlined goals that included encouraging student leadership and positive peer relationships; increasing inclusive settings; promoting good citizenship; and providing real world experiences for gross and fine motor tasks, delayed gratification, following directions and engaging in the community.
The Classroom Education Grant will fund the purchase of a wagon, gardening gloves and an assortment of gardening tools.
“Classroom grants allow teachers and our students to show the community what we are doing in the classroom,” Lewis said. “It’s safe to say the traditional way of teaching has been replaced by other concepts. It’s fun to show others what we are doing and how their support is helping us achieve those projects.”
Lewis expects to start the project with students in Emerson’s SOAR, or Successful Opportunities with Autism Resources, program in March.
“I want to give my students as much life experience as possible,” she said. “With COVID putting a lot of restrictions on schools this year, I knew we wouldn’t be able to take our students on field trips or even local trips around the county to gain those vital life experiences.”
But having a garden will give students an opportunity to get outside of the classroom and learn life skills.
“Gardening allows my students to learn something they could help out with at home or spark a passion for their future in a very hands-on way while also tying in some science state standards,” Lewis said.
She hopes to see the project continue in the future with support from the community.
“It takes a lot of different kinds of support to help educators like myself pull off these dream lessons/projects,” she said. “I’m thankful to live in a community that values students’ education and is willing to support their educators.”
Another such grant will launch a container garden at St. John’s Sauers Lutheran School.
Teacher Susan Hessong said her first- and second-graders will find themselves planting seeds, watching the plants, observing changes as the plants mature and then harvesting crops in the fall.
After talking with Ed Sitarski, a design group leader at Cummins, about his successful container garden, Hessong decided to adapt the plans for her students.
“It is self-watering and needs little weeding,” she said. “Since it is in containers, it is right at the students’ level. My class even bought gardening tools for my birthday, which we will be able to make good use of. I’m excited to see how it turns out.”
Foundation Vice President Sue Smith said a total of $3,066 was awarded in classroom grants this year, funded with interest earnings from the Jackson County Unrestricted Endowment totaling $3,000. An additional $66 from the Schneider Nursery Inc. Unrestricted Community Fund supplemented this year’s grants.
The Jackson County Unrestricted Endowment was established by the foundation board of directors with gifts from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help meet community needs within the county.
Applications for the annual Classroom Education Grants program are accepted each fall.
“As usual, not all applicants could receive funding,” Davis said. “The foundation takes a number of factors into consideration when awarding the grants. We wish we could fund more of the requests. We’ve seen some innovative ideas proposed and put into practice by teachers throughout Jackson County, and we’re excited to be a part of that important work.”
The foundation offers endowment services, gift planning, charitable gift annuities and scholarship administration. It was created in 1992 and made its first grants in 1994. Since then, the foundation has awarded more than $7 million in grants and scholarships across the county. The charitable nonprofit administers more than 200 funds with assets of more than $15 million.
For information about making a donation or starting a fund, call Davis at 812-523-4483.
List of grant recipients
Amy Ault, Brownstown Elementary School, to buy a digital bundle from Teachers Pay Teachers that will be shared among all first grade classrooms. The project is aimed at providing more work digitally as schools work more online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tonya Fee, Brownstown Elementary School, to buy 25 wireless computer mouse devices for first grade students. The devices are expected to make manipulation of Chromebooks easier for the students.
Beth Shelton, Brownstown Elementary School, to buy outdoor/indoor play equipment and games.
Anna Spencer, Brownstown Elementary School, to buy a downloaded bundle of lessons to be shared by all first grade classrooms. The project is aimed at providing more work digitally as schools work more online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abigail Young, Brownstown Elementary School, to buy a downloaded bundle of lessons to be shared by all first grade classrooms. The project is aimed at providing more work digitally as schools work more online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hannah Tanksley, Brownstown Elementary School, to buy materials to create a model for an environmentally friendly Indy car.
Sharon Wood, Margaret R. Brown Elementary School, to buy Speed Stacks for individual and team cup stacking.
Gracie Lewis, Emerson Elementary School, to buy supplies for an autism resources gardening project.
Jerrell Hubbard, Seymour High School, to buy materials for constructing outdoor patio furniture in the new construction trades program.
Tracy Karnes, Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, to buy materials for the creation of motivational walls.
Rhonda McCammon, Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, to buy copies of “Number the Stars” for sixth-graders, a start to the school’s Sixth-Grade Literature Circle.
Matthew Otte, Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, to buy Drunk Buster Low Level Nighttime Goggles for the high school.
Carrie Adler, Trinity Lutheran High School, to buy materials for a public mural in the lunchroom.
Susan Hessong, St. John’s Sauers Lutheran School, to provide funds for a container garden for first- and second-graders.