Grant funding brings technology to the classroom

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 12, 2012

GROSSE POINTES — With school budgets tight, many teachers and staff take their dreams for bringing new programs and technology to their classrooms to the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education.

The Foundation is an organization that works to make sure students have varied learning opportunities, and they’ve recently announced the next phase of grant recipients.

The Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education presented almost $100,000 in grant awards for eight different proposals during a school board meeting late last month. Those grants will benefit a number of schools in the district.

“We’re especially proud of this particular grant cycle, because we were able to reach students at every level,” Grosse Pointe Foundation representative Cat Ruffner said.

“We work hard to celebrate our teachers who are out of the box in their thinking, and they work so hard, and they go above and beyond for all that they do in the district,” she said. “This is all from our donors and our supporters and our sponsors. We are so grateful.”

District officials also expressed their gratitude to the foundation.

“I know the entire board appreciates all the hard work that the foundation puts into choosing these grants,” School Board President Judy Gafa said.

Superintendent Thomas Harwood said that the grant funding “will help support the initiatives and the innovative and creative ideas” of the teachers and students.

The foundation has given more than $1.6 million over the years to support education initiatives in the district.

“Tonight we are very fortunate to have eight different grants awarded,” Harwood said.

Those grants included several technology purchases to bring learning tools to the students.

Some teachers at Poupard, Ferry and Defer elementary schools submitted separate applications for either Netbooks or iPads for student use.

“They will use the technology support to engage and motivate students,” Ruffner said of the application that came from Poupard. “Statistics have shown that at-risk schools using Netbooks are closing their achievement gaps.”

The Poupard application was approved for $30,000. Applications from Ferry and Defer, which were for fourth/fifth-grade magnet programs, were awarded $7,000 each.

“Students will each have their own Netbook to use for research, daily writing, lab reports, online quizzes, assessments, plus more,” Ruffner said of the Ferry application.

The Defer application will purchase iPad 2s for the students in the program and “will prepare students to be college- and career-ready for lifelong learners.”

“Something that was interesting about this application, along with many, is this teacher went above and beyond in creating her plan for the year in teaching with this program,” Ruffner said while presenting the Defer grant information. “She put together very specifically what she planned to do with the students.”

One of the unique grant applications that was chosen came from a group of students. The foundation awarded $3,000 to the Grosse Pointe South Solar Car Team.

“We’re proud of the fact that students applied for this grant,” Ruffner said. “That’s unusual, and it’s very special.

“This is a student-run program at Grosse Pointe South,” Ruffner said. “The team hopes to cooperatively design and build a solar car to be raced in the 2013 Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge. … One goal of this team is to provide an outlet for all young, interested engineers.

A $2,000 grant was awarded to school counselors at all of the middle schools for the Recognized American School Counseling Association Model Program, which is a national program that is supposed to help the counselors become more efficient and effective.

“One of the things that we really liked about this program is that it represents all three middle schools,” Ruffner said. “These counselors have all dedicated their extra personal time — a lot of extra hours beyond the school hours to dedicate for three years — to get this program off the ground and running.”

The Raz Readers program was awarded up to $30,000, which will be used for all nine elementary schools.

The foundation took the grant application, which wasn’t for all of the schools, and realized that they wanted to see funding go to all nine elementary schools for this program.

“Dr. Harwood made it very clear to us that the district was committed to this program,” Ruffner said.

An almost $20,000 grant was awarded to Defer, Ferry, Mason, Poupard and Trombly to continue the Homework Club, which is an after-school program that helps students who are identified to receive extra help.

The foundation also awarded a $600 grant for a pilot program for a fourth-grade classroom at Maire.

“It’s a computer software program that will allow students who struggle with writing to learn to write more fluently,” Ruffner said.