December, January and February are slow months. Not “work-wise” – we’re busy planning the upcoming year – but it’s slow “news-wise”. Excel Grants have been distributed, but we haven’t received final reports yet, so we don’t have much to talk about there. Gold Star is coming up and people are nominating their favorite outstanding teachers, volunteers and staff, but the winners won’t be announced until the BASH, so again … nothing to talk about.
So, we decided to dig into the Excel Grant Archive Vault! Since our blog is relatively new (a year old this month!) and we didn’t have a forum before to talk much about the grants in the past, we decided that now was a good time to dig a few out!
We’re starting with a grant submitted by teachers Nick Deisler and Carlyn Roedell from Bow Lake Elementary they titled “Invasion of the First and Sixth Graders!”
Request: Our first and sixth graders are learning buddies. To extend our science curriculums with real world application, we would like to propose a service learning project with the Environmental Science Center at Shoenwald Park in Burien. The ECS has agreed to offer a lesson on native versus invasive plans species to our students. In return, our kids will help Shoenwald’s ecosystem by removing invasive ivy and Herb Robert (a.k.a. Stinky Bob, the wild, smelly geranium!). Students will also plant native plants.
Results: Our field trip was a huge success! The students removed non-native ivy using the clippers we bought using grant funds and planted native trees that were supplied by the Environmental Science Center. The students had a lot of fun and they were all engaged in their learning. My first grade students could identify the different types of plants and could explain what native species and invasive species were.
Due to budget cuts, it is harder and harder to get funding for field trips. This was the first field trip of the year for my first graders and for some of them, their first ever. One boy in particular had a new experience. When we got to the park, he grabbed my hand and told me he was scared. I asked why and he said he had never been to the woods. He stayed close to me until it was time to work and then he forgot all about his fear. He was so enthusiastic about planting trees I had to take him aside because he wasn’t letting anyone else do any work. When he got to pull ivy, he was a machine, enthusiastically ripping ivy from the ground, not stopping until lunch.
More about Excel Grants: Every year, the Highline Schools Foundation grants teachers the funds they need to support unique and innovative programs in their classrooms that their school’s budget can’t provide. We want to support activities and experiences that expand the learning process and actively engage students. Since the projects origin in February 2002, we have distributed more than $232,000 to HPS through Excel and MAD Grants! Grant requests are accepted each fall and we announce the program on our website and Facebook.