2016-17 Grants in Place Recipients are Announced!

More than 60 teachers will benefit from place-based education grants.

June 6, 2016 |

Koshkonong, Missouri (population, 217) will be a hotbed of place-based learning in the coming year. Photo of the Koshkonong Frisco Depot circa 1950's.

The 2016-17 Rural Schools Collaborative Grants in Place program was truly a collaborative venture. The combined efforts fund 33 projects serving 54 communities, supporting the good work of more than 60 teachers from seven states. Twenty-two funders and individual donors came together to invest more than $105,000 in rural place-based education initiatives and projects. The groundbreaking work of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ Rural Schools Partnership certainly led the way, but others are truly beginning to see the real value of supporting student learning that is imbedded in the community and serves a public purpose.

Please check out the projects listed below. They were selected from more than 70 applications from 12 different states. We hope you will join us in our ongoing endeavor to enlist additional funders and create even more place-based opportunities for teachers and their respective communities.

For a glimpse of our 2015-16 Grants in Place recipients, please click here.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this wonderful initiative.

Alabama: Funded by the Rural Schools Collaborative and matching funds from the Parker Griffith Family Foundation, Alabama Education Association, and an anonymous donor.

Appalachian High School, Oneonta, Nancy Dowdy, special education, $250, Community History Project. Students will join community members in developing a celebration of Oneonta, Alabama’s bicentennial. Check out Nancy's year-long plan for her project.

Bridgeport Elementary School, Kathy Frizzelle, 3rd grade, $1,000. Outdoor Classroom. Students will participate in the creation of an outdoor classroom by choosing and planting greenery as well as ensuring that the greenspace is maintained. Here is a wonderful story on Kathy's project, written by Alabama author, Larry Lee.

Fairfax Elementary School, Valley, Willonda Caffie, 3rd grade, $1,000, School Memory Garden Preservation Project. Students will restore and revamp an area into an outdoor education center. Check out this news feature on this super community-based project!

Handley High School, Roanoke City, Merredith Sears, history department chair, $1,050, Archaeological Project. Students will “dig into” the history of Randolph County. Click here to see a student narrative, website, and video on this wonderful project.

Handley High School, Roanoke City, Dr. Kim Herndon, assistant superintendent and Justin McCollum, teacher, $995, All Washed Up. Students will address topical issues through the examination of cultural constructs regarding place and nature as they become student entrepreneurs with the development of an organic soap business. Check out photos of the project.

Hazel Green Elementary School, Sara Harris, instructional coach and intervention specialist, $500, Community Health Project. Implementing a community school concept. See the grant award picture. Read Larry Lee's excellent article on this worthwhile effort.

Oak Grove Elementary School, Jefferson County, Lorie Bee, Lisa Lucas, Abby Sellers, and Brandi Morris, 4th grade teachers, $980. Fourth Grade Garden Project. Students will participate in an interactive produce garden project with community members. See this project come to life!

Sparkman Middle School, Tony, Candace Stricklin and John Kennedy, 6th grade science, $1,000, Community Communications Project. Students, parents, and community members will explore social media and related technologies to improve communications between the school and community. Learn more about this project and the good folks involved.

Winterboro High School, Emily Nestor, technology integration specialist, $1,000, STEAM Project. Students and parents will work together to develop community nights where high-interest workshops in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and math will be conducted. See the fine results of this community-oriented effort.

Arkansas: Funded by the Rural Schools Collaborative with matching funds provided by the Rural Community Alliance, Brent and Jeannie Glover, and the Rural Heritage Foundation (for Rural Special’s project).

Bruno-Pyatt Elementary School, Everton, Nichole Cunningham, 5th and 6th grade language arts and social studies, $275, Local Crafts Project. Students will work with area craftspeople to create a crafts demonstration event. Pictures of the Grants in Place recognition event.

Dermott Middle School, Julia Boatner, 6th grade literacy and social studies, $450, Parent Engagement Workshop. Students will present a workshop for parents and community members on how to get involved in and support the school district. Check out Julia's Grants in Place poster award picture.

Mt. Judea Area Alliance, Summer Learning Camp, $980. One of the Alliance's signature programs is its Summer Learning Camp (SLC). The SLC strives to ensure that participating students maintain or raise their reading levels and at the same time develop a lifelong love of reading. According to Beth Ardapple, "The Camp is truly a labor of love for our four current or retired certified teachers and five assistants. Several of them are in their fourth year of running the Camp." Here is a great picture of Mt. Judea folks receiving their check.

Rural Special School, Fox, DeWyn Avey, library media specialist, $800, Community Interview Books by Students. Participants will create written and published works based on interviews with community members. Learn more about this project!

Shirley High School, Kathryn Knapp, 11th and 12th grade English, $275, Southern Writers Exploration. Students will conduct community interviews in conjunction with Southern writers unit and attending the Arkansas Literary Festival. Check out Kathryn's grant recognition event. The students' final product.

Illinois: The Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, First Midstate Inc., and the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation provided funding for these projects.

Jefferson Elementary School (Charleston), Pam Evans, 6th grade, $1,000, Let’s Get Dirty. Students will investigate soil quality in this farming community and learn how to make compost. Check out our Poster Award event. Check out the students working on their composting project.

Williams Elementary Schoool, Mattoon, William Gherardini, kindergarten, $1,000, Together We Can. Kindergarten students will participate in a year-long gardening program that will take place at three community nursing homes. High school FFA students will manage the gardens in the summer of 2017. Check out our Poster Award event. You will want to check out this inspirational update on this project!

St. Rose School, Beverly Kapp, 6th grade English/language arts, $1,000, Community Heritage Project. Students from the sixth grade English Language Arts class will collaborate with other grade levels to research the history of the community, school, and local parish. A community group of local historians under the direction of Cathy Jansen will coordinate with the school. While the students will work primarily on the written history, the adults will also focus on the family tree of early settlers in St. Rose. Check out this grant update!

Missouri: The Community Foundation of the Ozark’s Rural Schools Partnership, Louis L. Coover and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation of Commerce Trust, and Rural Conservation Fund provided full funding for this excellent array of place-based education projects.

Alton R-IV, Anne Oesch, high school speech and drama coach, $3,000, Greek Amphitheater and Readers Theater Project. A Greek theater is the broader project to be built at the city park, adjacent to the school. This grant will be utilized to start land preparation at the park, sculpting the seating, stage work and native stone retaining walls. Here is the poster award ceremony. Another wonderful completed project!

Koshkonong Elementary, Middle, and High School, Theresa Wiggs, $2,500, Proud to be Rural. The project will focus students on the benefits and opportunities of living in a rural community. Field trips will take students to businesses and students will record and share what they are learning on a website dedicated to the project. All students k-12 will participate. Poster award picture.

Marionville Elementary School, Matt Price, 5th grade teacher, $3,000, Community Garden Project. 5th graders will team up with the high school FFA to build and sustain a community garden. Students will be graphing data looking for trends as they sell their product. A compost bin will also be utilized. By selling the produce, students will be engaged in basic money skills in a real setting.

Koshkonong Schools, Sandy Roberts, $3,000, Printing for Progress. Students will create a printing service for the district. They will be involved in creating T-shirt designs through screen printing and gain business expertise as they market and sell their shirts and other product. Poster award picture. Here is a grant outcome report with pictures.

Discovery Center, Meleah Spencer, $4,000, Outreach STEM Education for Rural Schools. ScienceWorks on the Road takes science to the schoolrooms of 3rd or 5th graders once a week for 7 weeks, culminating in a field trip to DCS. The program provides hands-on exploration of science concepts along with guided investigations aimed at increasing knowledge and interest in STEM related fields to underserved areas. Read about the good outcomes for this rural outreach effort.

Koshkonong Schools, John Doss, FFA, $4,000, Grow Your Own. The project aims to provide students with an opportunity to think outside the box and be exposed to alternative ways to be involved with agriculture. Student will develop a school garden with high school students mentoring 3rd and 4th graders in planting vegetables and flowers. Ultimately, the students will develop a roadside stand for selling their produce. Agricultural careers will be explored including agricultural tourism. See progress pictures! Here is the poster award ceremony! Here is a very good project update from the Ozarks.

Aurora High School, Kim McCully-Mobley, English/language arts and Brad Boettler, practical arts/A-Tech, $1,250, All Roads Lead Home: Houn’ Dawg University. The goal of this project is to explore, preserve, and showcase the connections of sense of place writing and creating through research, dialogue, literacy geography, values and traditions using the Hon’ Dawg legacy as an anchor. Students will cross and connect previous and future generations in readers’/writers’ workshop fashion. See how this project continues to grow!

Placeworks, Springfield Art Museum, $35,000. Will provide high-quality, place-based arts programming to as many as 12 districts that are a part of the RSP. The teaching artists work on a case-by-case basis to design projects that meet curricular goals and student developmental needs. Each of the projects is unique to the class and its students. You can follow all of the Placeworks projects on their Facebook page. Here ins an excellent television feature on this year's work.

Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies, GOCAPS, $25,000. This program immerses high school students in professional environments through project-based learning curriculum driven by passionate industry leaders and delivered by visionary instructors. Middle and high school teachers will have summer externships, which is all about taking the business-focused learning model to a subset of each school. Twelve Ozarks’ districts are involved: Logan-Rogersville, Nixa, Willard, Republic, Ozark, Strafford, Reeds Spring, Branson, Bolivar, Marshfield, Monett and Spokane.

New York: This grant was funded by the Rural Schools Collaborative.

Worcester Elementary School, Sandra Knapp, elementary STEM teacher, $1,000, Community STEM Garden/Greenhouse. Students will use composted cafeteria food (student designed/built composters) for garden fertilizer, transfer plants grown in the STEM classroom to the proposed greenhouse/garden, and use the garden/greenhouse produce in the cafeteria. Check out pictures of the students' work.

Oregon: This grant was funded by the Rural Schools Collaborative with local support funding from Casey Powell, design consultant, Children’s Forest of Central Oregon, and local donors from the area's farming community.

Powell Butte Community Charter School, Marcia Van Horn, science teacher, $2,600, Cool Spaces and Places. Students will work with a local design consultant to plan, design and incorporate student artwork into an outdoor education center. The long-term plan is for this space to be used for a farmers’ market. You will want look at our feature on this excellent community-based project!

Wisconsin: Funding for these projects was provided by the Rural Schools Collaborative, American Family Insurance, Dean Lund Agency, Inc., Madison Audubon Society, Sixteenth Section Fund, Bill and Gina Eggert, Terry Sivesind, Gary and Jana Funk, Cambridge FFA Alumni, School District of Cambridge Severson Learning Center.

Cambridge High School, Shane Leadholm, business education teacher, $3,000. Civic Engagement Team. Students will serve as interns and provide support and direction to a variety of nonprofit organizations and community-based efforts. Community art show pictures.

High Marq Environmental Charter School, Montello, Amanda Bolan, advisor, $1,000, Pollinator Garden Project—a Prairie Conservation Grant project in conjunction with Madison Audubon Society. Students will explore and practice land stewardship and promote pollinator education by creating a pollinator gardent. Congratulations to High Marq for their award-winning commitment to place-based education!

Ithaca Public Schools, John Cler, $500, Prairie Conservation Education Grant in conjunction with the Madison Audubon Society: prairie restoration. Nearly 450 students will participate in a one-acre prairie restoration effort.

River Valley Elementary, Lone Rock, Daniel Machovec, $600, Prairie Conservation Education Grant in conjunction with the Madison Audubon Society: Bird habitat project. Students create different types of bird feeders to determine which bird feeders are the most effective. Read this feature on this wonderful project!

Severson Learning Center, School District of Cambridge, Raquel Parish, special education teacher, $5,000, Ag Corps Project. High school students will work with a college intern and faculty leader to develop and implement conservation projects and support the community garden at the Severson Learning Center, which serves as the school farm. Pictures here.

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