Special Mid-Cycle Grants Awarded: Supporting students during the pandemic

Grant History / February 28, 2021 /

Thanks to the pandemic, BH-BL teachers are unable to provide all the usual learning opportunities for students. Meanwhile the school budget is straining to cover the unexpected costs of PPE and this year’s other extra health & safety measures.

In response, the Education Foundation Board of Trustees has speeded up it’s grant cycle and offered teachers an additional potential resource.

Three teachers took advantage of this opportunity during January and February, 2021. Their grant proposals have now been approved by both the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and the district Board of Education for a total of $1,091, as follows:

1.  Virtual Field Trip and Guest Lecturer for High School Earth Science & Environmental Science Classes

Requested by: Melissa Thomas

Grant amount: $470

Ms. Thomas is serving high school students who are learning 100% virtually. Typically her classes enjoy field trips to places like the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, but that is not possible this year. She requested $150 so that her Environmental Science students can enjoy a Virtual Field Trip and Otter Encounter session offered by the Wild Center.

She also requested $320 for sessions of “Let’s Talk Space” for her three Earth Science classes. This is put on my Schenectady’s own museum, MiSci, and will allow students to interact with a Guest Astronomer, which students have loved in the past, she says. “Let’s Talk Space” covers the newest discoveries and most exciting science missions beyond our planet. Topics range from the most recent footage of other planets, to the design and launch of brand-new research missions, to the search for life beyond Earth.


2. Copies of a paperback novel for Stevens 4th Grade Virtual Students

Requested by: Susan Guba

Grant amount: $121

Sets of classroom novels that 4th grade teacher Susan Guba might normally use with her online-learning-only students have been packed up and put in storage for now due to Covid safety concerns. Her grant will pay for 22 copies of the novel Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

Ms. Guba says “I feel strongly that it is important to get a REAL book in my students’ hands that we can read and discuss together.  Although my students have access to our reading textbook (which we use regularly), short, skill-based texts can’t compare to rich, well-written novels when it comes to fostering a love for reading while developing stronger readers in the process. A solid language arts program should include both!”


3. Knitting Enrichment Project for 8th grade Students 

Requested by: Lindsay Armbruster

Grant amount: $500

On Fridays, students in Lindsay Armbruster’s 8th grade Health classes “spend the class period reflecting and unplugging.  They reflect on their learning over the course of the week and then we turn off all screens and engage in healthy activities without screens.”

With the funds from this grant, Ms. Armbruster also intends to teach them to knit:  “This semester, I’d like to engage them not only in unplugging for their own benefit, but unplugging for a larger purpose.”  Students will knit squares that will be combined and turned into blankets for donation to the Glendale Nursing Home.

“This also ties in to the tremendous health benefits of service to one’s community,” she notes.