Manatee County teachers awarded $120,000 in classroom grants
BRADENTON -- Manatee County students will voyage through history, bring the outside in and see the beauty of wings through a butterfly habitat -- among a number of other projects -- all through grants given to teachers Thursday.
More than $120,000 in grants were given out to a record 400 Manatee County school teachers, as part of the Manatee Education Foundation Ready for School rally held at Renaissance on 9th. Amounts ranged between $300 and $500. Grants were given to 52 different schools.
"We made it later so we could get more teachers," said Mary Glass, executive director of the Manatee Education Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds to help teachers.
This year, the foundation changed the event deadline giving teachers more time to fill out the grant application.
The change paid off with the foundation doubling the number of grants given out, including some to schools never awarded grants before. In the last six years, the foundation has given out $750,000 in classroom grants.
"We're breaking all sorts of records today," Glass said.
The grants will be put to various uses:
Manatee Elementary kindergarten students will turn a wilted plot of raised beds into a thriving garden with teacher Deborah Irwin.
King Middle School art students will design, draw, paint and construct poster boards to display in front of the school.
Seabreeze Elementary School students will design and build a hot balloon with teacher Sharon Townsend.
Students remember such projects, said Superintendent Diana Greene.
"When I think about what you are doing here today, writing for grants to do unique projects in your classroom, those are the things that our students take away," she said. "They don't remember their
FCAT score, they don't remember the score on any test that we give them, but they do remember those moments in time when lessons come to life. When lessons become relevant. When learning becomes fun."
Foundation board Chairman Trevor Gooby, who works with the Pittsburgh Pirates and has two students at Wakeland Elementary, called the classroom grants "one of the most important events that we do."
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.