New computers, iPads and materials for science lab dissections are just a few of the resources that will be available to Landrum Middle School students as a result of mini-grants awarded to four teachers by the Ponte Vedra Public Education Foundation.
Foundation President Michael Hannon presented a total of nearly $10,000 in mini-grants to teachers who applied to the foundation for assistance in funding special projects, equipment and activities. In addition to computers for Nancy Hutton’s STEM courses, Tara Van Kouteren received her ninth foundation mini-grant to support science lab dissections.
“It really gets (students) excited about science,” Van Kouteren said, “and for some students it gets them interested in a career in medicine.”
Civics teacher Erika Carpenter received a mini-grant to fund access to the Flocabulary library of videos and other resources, while Kim Usry received an iPad and software that enables her to work on math problems with her students as a group.
“This (grant) enabled me to use this technology with my class,” Usry said. “Because of the grant, I didn’t need to purchase the software myself. It was very nice of the foundation to do this.”
Ponte Vedra parent Devon Witt, who helps oversee the mini-grant application and award process, became involved with the Ponte Vedra Public Education Foundation after watching her mother’s involvement for many years. She said that grants can range from $250 for a request that will benefit one class to as much as $5,000 for an entire school.
“Some of the creativity that comes out of the teachers is absolutely amazing,” Witt said.
When the foundation started back in the 1980s, Witt noted, Ponte Vedra had one school. “Now we’re up to six,” she said. “As our area has grown, our needs have grown.”
Support for the foundation comes primarily from individual private donors, Witt said, as well as companies and organizations such as the PGA Tour.
“They’ve been a supporter from the very beginning,” she said.
Landrum Middle School Principal Ryan Player said the foundation mini-grants were an important extension of the school’s academic and arts and cultural offerings.
“These grants really impact student learning,” Player said. “It gives them opportunities and experiences that extend learning beyond the walls of the classroom.”
Having support from a community-based group also was important, Player added.
“It’s really about building relationships and letting the community know about what we’re doing here,” Player said. “That goes beyond the monetary value.”