Foundation grants fund classroom creativity

POULSBO — In Susan Longan’s first-grade classroom at Poulsbo Elementary School, the most effective education is often sparked by experimentation. Because of her willingness to try new things, she has developed an understanding of her charges that goes beyond the basics.

It’s not unusual for Longan to decrease the stimulus in her classroom by turning down the lights or even use aromatherapy to enhance her students’ concentration. She recently was awarded a mini-grant from the North Kitsap Education Foundation (NKEF) to lessen the financial burden of bringing extras into the classroom.

Longan is one of 16 teachers district-wide to earn the educational mini-grants, which range from $250 to $610.

Her grant money will pay for filters for the classroom’s fluorescent lights, bean bag chairs and exercise music.

“We want to make sure that not only are we helping them meet expectations, but we want to make sure we meet their needs,” said Longan, who described her first graders as “busy.”

She does her best to create a relaxing environment conducive to learning, which takes into account that first graders have a high expectation of themselves.

“We know that as hard as they try, sometimes they can’t overcome who they are and how they are. They’re little kids,” she said.

The grants are intended to encourage teachers like Longan to think creatively in the classroom, said Ken Shawcroft, vice president of the NKEF. This is the fourth year the foundation has awarded the funds. A committee of NKEF board and community members reviewed some 34 applications before announcing the recipients.

“The main thing we’re trying to do with these mini-grants is provide some funds for teachers to try something new,” Shawcroft said. “We’re trying to encourage these teachers to try those extras and hopefully they won’t have to use all their own money.”

The NKEF is a non-profit organization established to promote and fund learning opportunities for students in the North Kitsap School District.

Other programs also earning mini-grants this year include:

Build a Marimba: Cynthia Gilman, Breidablik Elementary;

Lights and Shadows: Beverly Godfrey, Vinland Elementary;

First grade art curriculum: Tracy Zeringer, Poulsbo Elementary;

Traditional arts of Japan outside the classroom; Kari Denton, Kingston High School;

Aeronautics for everyone: Mark Stebbing, Kingston Middle School;

Anatomy field trips: Patricia Webster, North Kitsap High School;

Five for life: Robert Webb, Breidablik Elementary;

Growing Gardens with Wolfle: Maria Steinbeisser, Wolfle Elementary;

Suquamish Elementary Rhythm and Power Ensemble (SERAPE): Tamera Rabura, Suquamish Elementary;

Sustainability curriculum and pea patch: Bob Geballe, Spectrum Community School;

Discrepant events: Jerrine Gabrio, Breidablik Elementary;

Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) Application: Laurie Harney, Poulsbo Elementary;

Greeting card making: Carolyn Mosiman, Vinland Elementary;

Promoting bilingual literacy: Laura Lopez, North Kitsap High School; and

Wildlife Habitat Project: Lisa Hawkins, Poulsbo Elementary.

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