Empower teachers, engage students

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Local educational charity announces formation and grant opportunities for teachers

By Kaelin Reed


Every day in classrooms across the country, teachers are finding new and innovative ways to instruct their students. Marion County is no exception. Sometimes it is a physical adaptation, like the alternative seating options that Ashley Clark uses in her second/third grade classroom at Calvary. Other times impact is made through innovative content, like the robotics that Angela Burke uses in her science lab at Glasscock Elementary. Our teachers are constantly searching for creative ways to deliver standards-based content in their classrooms. Given appropriate resources, the unique ideas and inspiring techniques that our teachers can employ are virtually limitless.

Several years ago, when I first joined the Board of Education, the idea of setting-up a non-profit educational foundation was discussed. In other districts, educational foundations had been used as a way for corporate partners and interested individuals to contribute to the advancement of education in their communities. The stumbling block we encountered at that time, and which ultimately led to us abandoning the project, was that we did not have a clear vision for the use of foundation resources. Just having a foundation for the sake of having one did not, in our estimation, justify the undertaking.

With the 2016 school board election, an opportunity presented itself to reevaluate the possibilities that an educational foundation might provide. Our discussions about the work of the foundation quickly centered around supporting the teachers in our district who consistently exceed profession expectations and utilize creative thinking to challenge their students. We envisioned creating a foundation with the purpose of funding and supporting innovative classroom initiatives which empower teachers, engage students and ensure that all achieve their highest potential.

In August 2017, with the blessing of the Board of Education, the Marion County Education Foundation, Inc. was created. The foundation is a tax-exempt public charity that operates wholly separately from the Board of Education - it is its own legal entity, with its own board of directors. It acts to support the educational mission of Marion County Public Schools through 100 percent tax-deductible contributions. And because the foundation board is made up of volunteers and much of the administrative overhead has been graciously provided at no cost, nearly 100 percent of all money donated to the foundation will be disbursed to Marion County teachers in the form of micro-grants for classroom and educational enrichment opportunities.

We have already secured contributions from several local businesses to fund the initial round of micro-grants, so I am pleased to announce that we will be opening our inaugural grant application window this fall. We will solicit proposals from our teachers, which will be evaluated by an independent review panel. Grant recipients will be announced in the spring and the first Education Foundation grant-supported projects will begin with the 2019-20 school year.

The possibilities for growing the foundation, like the creative ideas that our teachers envision, are limitless. However, the foundation is not self-sustaining. It receives no government funding and is totally dependent upon the support of community partners and interested individuals to function. The foundation’s mission is to serve as a conduit through which charitable gifts can flow to worthy teachers and innovative ideas. We need broad community buy-in to make this undertaking a success. If you or your business is interested in partnering with the foundation to sponsor a grant, or to make a charitable contribution, please feel free to reach out to the foundation through our Facebook page, or contact any of the foundation’s officers:

President - Carrie Truitt

Vice-President - Marilu Farnham

Treasurer - Jim Reed

Secretary - Kaelin Reed

Editor’s note: Kaelin Reed represents District II on the Marion County Board of Education.