PRESS RELEASE, December 16, 2023 — The giving season is well underway at the Ashland Schools Foundation (ASF). On Tuesday, December 5th, a check was delivered to Ashland School District offices that will go toward supporting 35 unique projects and initiatives across Ashland school sites. Thanks to the generous support of the local community, ASF was able to say ‘yes’ to $47,019 of teacher and administrator requests.
“This was an exceptionally exciting round of Classroom Impact Grant applications,” remarks ASF Executive Director Erica Thompson. “We’re seeing a number of proposals requesting materials for in-depth, creative, hands-on activities that are certain to engage and inspire students, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM.”
One such request came from teachers in the Alternative Education program at Ashland High School (AHS), who were awarded $945 to teach hands-on lessons about mycology and soil remediation.
“When our students are able to have multi-sensory approaches to learning and reconnect with the natural world, it improves their well-being. Getting their hands into the soil is proven to improve mental health,” says AHS teacher Jennifer Wapepah, who submitted the request for the ASF grant. She goes on to reflect on the impact of having the accessible funding support of the Foundation: “Pursuing enrichment opportunities is no longer a daunting task. Instead, it inspires and supports teachers to do the meaningful work they do.”
Other Classroom Impact Grants ranged from modest requests such as $127 for new pots and pans compatible with the induction cooktop in the Ashland Middle School Life Skills classroom, to broad program support such as binoculars and collision prevention decals for Andre Carvalhaes’ Ornithology class. This round of grant funding also covered many of the usual suspects, such as classroom book sets, art supplies and flexible seating options.
Through the Education Support grant program, ASF also supported even broader initiatives across the district, including new PE equipment, a student-made mural at Bellview Elementary honoring Indigenous Peoples, and the implementation of student regulation stations in five K-3 classrooms at TRAILS and Willow Wind, which creates space and opportunity for students to regulate their emotions and focus on re-engaging with their class.
“The regulation stations help students gain valuable social and emotional skills that were lost during our year of COVID shut down. Regulated students are ready-to-learn students! Incorporating regulation into the classroom community helps kids see that emotions are important communication tools that can help us navigate life positively,” shares Britt Humphrey, a child development specialist and behavioral health specialist who works with elementary students across the district.
Many of the grants ASF awards are geared toward meeting the needs of all types of learners and creating greater accessibility. This fall, the Foundation supported the purchase of new iPads on swivel stands that serve as interpretive devices for English language learners, as well as math tile sets and a set of graphic novel versions of Beowulf for visual learners.
These grants and many more have all been made possible through the support of hundreds of community members who donate to the Ashland Schools Foundation, as well as by the success of the recent Monster Dash fundraiser, which raised $40,000 for Ashland Schools at the end of October.
“It’s such an inspiration to see all of the creative and innovative ways teachers are working to engage their students in the classroom after recent years of challenge and disruption.” says Thompson.
One donor who recognizes the remarkable challenges teachers have been facing reached out to the Foundation to make a unique and directly impactful gift.
“We really want to support all Ashland teachers and students,” says Alan DeBoer, who along with his wife Rebecca, gifted $10,000 to the Foundation to be forwarded directly to teachers. “They have been through so much.”
The gift was issued in the form of $50 Amazon Gift Cards to the mailbox of every teacher in the district (200 in total). Many remarked that the gift came at the perfect time, as many classrooms were in need of replenishing materials, art supplies and incentives as the end of the year approaches.
Donations to ASF can be made securely and easily at ashlandschoolsfoundation.org/donate.