Huffman Education Foundation seeks funding
The Huffman Education Foundation enabled life skills students to build a community garden, elementary students to learn robotics and high school students to know more than just the Spanish language.
Created at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, the foundation has raised more than $100,000, but at a breakfast fundraiser Wednesday, March 22, board member Kirk Vaughn said he and the other directors want to do even more. The money gathered all goes toward awarding grants to teachers who apply for funding.
“We want to be able to fund every grant that a teacher wants to apply for,” Vaughn said.
The foundation was seeking funding for eight current applications, and United Community Credit Union agreed to pay $1,388 before the breakfast even began.
The money will aid the Copeland Elementary School community garden, where students in third through fifth grades meet weekly to weed, plant and maintain their garden. The grant will pay for additional equipment for the grant and allow children to expand the types of plants they grow.
Another application requested $5,000 for portable lab carts to help with Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, or STEAM, lessons. The carts can be shared between classrooms and taken to the new elementary when it is opened.
A middle school teacher has asked for $2,000 for a 3-D printer in science classes. Students would be able to create their own working objects and models, and the teacher hopes it will encourage them to enter more innovative fields.
Almost $9,000 would help a teacher buy laptops for students in the English as a Second Language program. Children in the program struggle with reading, writing, speaking and listening. With the laptops, they’d be able to listen to podcasts and have texts read aloud. The laptops would allow teachers to give more individualized attention.
And an application for less than $5,000 would give first-graders alternative seating, allowing them room to wiggle while they learn, and provide filters for fluorescent lighting.
Four previous recipients of grant money brought students to show the room full of Huffman’s business partners what they’d been able to do with some of the money.
Melissa Rickli, journalism teacher at Huffman Middle School, received $900 in December 2015 to buy equipment to help her students create a video news broadcast. They created the Falcon News Network.
“Just a little bit of innovation goes so, so far with these kids because they get a chance to shine,” Rickli said.
Andrea Prichard brought in her Life Skills students, who carried signs thanking the foundation with pictures of the group working on their raised vegetable garden. It’s still in the beginning stages, but a $3,000 grant awarded in December has helped students build the garden. Once the vegetables grow, Prichard plans to teach students how to make salsa to sell.
The revenue will be used to purchase more seeds and plants.
Hargrave High School Spanish teacher Lisa Acker used grant money to purchase iPad minis, and her students said the tablets have helped them better understand Spanish culture.
Meanwhile, fifth-grade Robotics Club students from Copeland showed off their robotics skills, equipment for which was funded through a grant.
Superintendent Benny Soileau remembered when the foundation started that an individual from the community wrote a check for $20,000. Teachers, known for not being highly paid, donate $5 and $10 a paycheck.
“We’ve got a community of leaders who understand servant leadership,” Soileau told the group. “When we need something in the school district, we put it out there, and it’s taken care of.”