For the second consecutive year the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation has offered opportunities to our schools to apply for new 4A grants. This year, with the help of countless community and alumni donors, $15,000 was made available for enhancements to programs or for innovations in academics, arts, athletics, and activities. Teachers make application in one or more of the 4A categories, and a committee of the foundation board reviews the applications and makes decisions about which applications to fund.
That the generosity of the community allows for the 4A grants is remarkable! That we are provided opportunity to help a teacher pilot a program or broaden the reach of something we know to be good is a great satisfaction for everyone who reads the applications and helps put community gifts into action! A few of this year’s awards are great examples of the ways the foundation supports on-going efforts or sows seeds of innovation:
1. Riverside Elementary primary (kindergarten through second grade) staff will be able to purchase 15 sets of magnetic letters to be used across seven or more classrooms helping struggling learners write and “know” the letters of the alphabet.
2. Two elementary music teachers will receive Smartboard interactive technology to enhance new district music curriculum. Another elementary teacher will add an interactive touchscreen in her second grade classroom providing to enhance reading and mathematics activities for an additional 75 students.
3. Again at Riverside, grant awards will replenish a bookroom with hundreds of books at appropriate reading levels for hundreds of students from kindergarten through fourth grade.
4. All six elementary schools will be able to purchase sets of resource materials for gifted and talented students. Junior Great Books collections will provide materials for teachers and trained volunteers to use with second - fourth grade students at all six schools.
5. At Forestview, a good portion of the middle school volleyball equipment will be replaced, improving the experience of 130-160 student athletes per year.
6. At Brainerd High School two outstanding students will move forward on a college-level research project. In a study of the effects of Ultraviolet rays on e-coli bacteria, two students will be paired with St. Cloud State University mentors in a partnership we hope paves the way for future student projects. Additional equipment and materials will advance the research and set a new bar for scientific inquiry.
Not all of the wonderful applications received by the foundation could be funded this year, but the grants awarded will meet the mission. The awards listed above will benefit existing programs and spur new thinking and new efforts from teachers and their students.
Just such a beginning occurred last year, when the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation approved a 4A grant to help fund the High Altitude Balloon Club at Forestview. Just a few days ago, Mr. Reed and Mr. Olson’s club received word from a national competition that their club earned $40,000 worth of supportive technology from the Samsung Corporation. The club may yet qualify for an even greater award (over $100,000 worth of equipment), and we wish the teachers and students well as they expand and grow opportunities for students in the Brainerd Public Schools. We hope this year’s Brainerd Public Schools Foundation 4A grant awards afford teachers, coaches, and students additional chances to reach for greatness and enhance the lives of our learners! Thanks again to all who support the foundation!
STEVE RAZIDLO is superintendent of the Brainerd School District.