More than $25,000 in grants to fuel technology in Washington County Schools

Jessica Fuller • Dec 18, 2018 at 2:35 PM

From language arts to math to music, Washington County classrooms are getting a boost just in time for the holidays through the county’s grant program. 

The Quality Education Support for Tomorrow grant funded more than $16,000 in grants for four elementary schools across the county. In the eight years of the QUEST foundation, 54 classrooms in fourteen schools have gained more than $152,000 in grant money.

This year, Comcast chipped in a separate $10,000 grant, awarded to Jonesborough Middle School instructional coach Mary Jane Allen and seventh grade teacher Christine Bass. The teachers plan to use the money to implement flexible seating in classrooms for students.

“Brain research has shown that . . . our surroundings greatly enhance what we’re able to do in the classrooms,” Allen said. “When we think about a group of students, it’s not just a furniture grant, it is a grant that presents itself as flexible seating to make sure that our students are engaged as possible in the classrooms.”  

The pair plan to start installing the seating early next year, and they don’t want it to stop in just a couple of classrooms — Allen said she hopes the results of the seating in one classroom will help others to see how different seating can help students in other classrooms and schools in the county. 

Other recipients include: 

• Melanie Barkley, a first-grade teacher at Grandview Elementary School, was awarded $1,738.60 for her application, “Chromebooks Use in First Grade Small Groups.” Barkley said during her acceptance speech that she has 19 students in her class, and that the grant money will be used to buy six Chromebooks for her students to use in small groups.

Having children work with the Chromebooks in small groups will give Barkley more time to work with them and teach them how to do things like research, and use different programs.

“Using them in small groups is going to be helpful so I can watch the children and take the time to discuss what they’re doing,” she said.

• Lamar Elementary School teacher Balinda Lyons and special education instructor Jodi Pugh received $5,879.70 to benefit special education classrooms at the school. The grant, penned by Lyons and titled “Bridging the Gap with Technology,” will fund 24 Chromebooks for the school to help students in CDC classes, Lyons said.

“We’re going to use (the Chromebooks) to develop individual lessons that the students need,” Lyons said. “It saves time with the teachers so we can go ahead and assign each student what they need at the level they are able they are able to work on and still cover grade level curriculum.”

• Lamar Elementary music teacher Angee Woody received $3,140.24 to fund a special methodology to teach music called Orrfestra. The grant will fund instruments for the methodology that haven’t been replaced since 1984.

“This will change the way I teach in the classroom and will certainly benefit our students,” Woody said.

• Fifth-grade language arts teacher Amy Knight secured $480.30 at Gray Elementary School. Her grant application, titled “Google Classroom and Lunch & Learn Reading,” will fund an inclusion class to help students with writing through the use of a Google Classroom. Additionally, Knight said she plans to purchase books so students can come in during her own lunch hour to so that students from different class times can get together to read.

“It’s to get everybody a chance to learn and everybody a chance to read on their level and work on their level and interact with other kids that they’re not in class with,” Knight.

• Fall Branch School second- and third-grade classrooms will receive $4,777.60 through teacher Valerie Moore’s grant application, “One Two Three, Four: We Need Chromebooks to Learn Some More.” The grant will push Fall Branch closer to a one-to-one Chromebook ratio at the school.

“So far, we now have students in grades 4 through 8 that have a one-to-one ratio,” Moore said. “With this grant, we are now able to add 16 Chromebooks to our shared second- and third-grade cart, which means now our second- and third-graders will have the opportunity for Chromebooks too.”

The QUEST foundation relies on donations from local companies and individuals. To learn more about QUEST, visit wcde.org. 

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