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APOLLO-RIDGE: Foundation awards six mini-grants

by JULIE E. MARTIN on October 31, 2013 10:50 AM

SPRING CHURCH — The Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation presented six mini-grants at Tuesday’s school board meeting. The awards, which went to both classroom and schoolwide projects, total $2,210.

Bringing technology into the classroom was at the forefront of the requests. Others focused on anti-bullying efforts and a baby-sitting education program.

AREF mini-grants will go to the following:

• The P.R.I.D.E. program, which aims to prevent bullying and other destructive behaviors through creation of teacher-led committees and student mentors. The effort is led by high school Principal Clint Weimer and will serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

• Purchase of headphone technology for the high school’s Read 180 Center. The equipment, according to officials, will allow students to increase confidence in reading aloud.

• Support for bringing the computer game Minecraft into the classroom to teach geography concepts to sixth-graders.

• Support for the Light a Fire for Reading project, which will utilize Kindle Fire HD tablets to enhance learning.

• Purchase of a baby-sitting curriculum that will be used in sixth grade and high school child and family studies classes.

• Hardware and software purchases to enhance the ability of life skills students in grades six through 12 to participate in art classes.

The education foundation has been distributing mini-grants annually since 1996.

The foundation received 10 requests this time around.

Cristine Kostiuk, AREF member and administrative assistant to the superintendent, said the foundation has seen a good number of requests for technology integration.

“We find that it engages the students,” she said. “They learn while they play.”

Superintendent Matthew Curci said after the meeting that he was pleased with the requests’ emphasis on technology.

“I think that’s kind of a sign of the times and a sign that students and staff are more comfortable with technology,” he said, adding that the push to bring up-to-date learning technology into the classroom illustrates why the district wants to create a STEAM center.

STEAM — or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math — education aims to integrate those fields into a student’s learning experience.

Apollo-Ridge is seeking funding to overhaul its middle school library into a STEAM learning center for students and the community.

School directors also approved a series of updates to the district’s special-education policy and several new hires, among them, a secondary French language teacher who will be paid about $52,000 per year.

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