Former president Rebecca McIntire said the normal practice was to award up to $1,000 per grant proposal. Now teachers will be able to combine their efforts to write a grant either for their collective classrooms, school(s) or district.
“Teams of teachers are excited about this. They were actually the ones who came to us saying, ‘Hey, we are already writing the same grants, can we combine our efforts?’” McIntire said. “We thought that through and felt it was a very workable plan for [this] year.”
Mini-grants provide an avenue for teachers in the Bradley County and Cleveland school systems to supplement their classroom funds. Arnold Elementary’s Siema Swartzel has repeatedly applied for grants to purchase musical instruments for her classroom. Last February found Park View Elementary students in Heather Hayes’ third-grade class stitching pillows to learn about measurements.
McIntire said it is gratifying to hear the responses from teachers and students.
Submitted mini-grant applications do not focus on one subject. One teacher used a mini-grant to teach her students soft skills needed for success. McIntire said Foundation members were impressed. Young students used their newfound skills to greet their guests, shake their hands and give a tour of their school.
According to McIntire, these students are now leading parent-teacher meetings. Teachers no longer run the conversation. They act as mediators while students lead their parents through their academics and behavior.
New BCPEF president Matthew Bentley said he was both honored and nervous to be appointed.
He mentioned foundation members are not satisfied with what they have done so far.
“We are not satisfied with the amount we are giving,” Bentley said. “We are not satisfied with the amount of support we are giving these educational systems in terms of making aware their needs to our community.”
Added Bentley, “And we are not satisfied with the relationships, or the level of the relationships, we have with our partners in education.”
Bradley County and Cleveland board of education members thanked BCPEF for its work.
Cleveland chairman Tom Cloud said he has seen a lot of the mini-grants provided through BCPEF used well.
BCPEF Executive Director Lynn Voelz suggested board members from both systems meet with the foundation individually to discover how the two entities can work better together.
“To go forward, we want a partnership with you,” Voelz assured the board members.
The joint board approved the following changes to the BCPEF executive committee:
- Two-year term of office: Matthew D. Bentley, president; Vanessa C. Hammond, vice president; and Chari Buckner, secretary/treasurer.
- New members with three-year appointments: Robert Thompson and Nancy Zierenberg.
- Re-appointed for a three-year term: Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald, John Haile and Steve Robinson.