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Educational Fund mini-grants distributed

Through the generosity and careful consideration of the Meyersdale Area Education Foundation, classrooms throughout the District will be filled with melodious music, creative communicators, mad math skills, super spellers, radical researchers, outstanding ornithologists and roving reporters.

Each year, the MAEF offers two rounds of mini-grants for teachers and staff to enrich and improve classroom activities.  A 501(c)3 organization, the foundation was established to support programs for students.  

The latest round was recently distributed to eight applicants and the diversity of the grant requests is a true reflection of the diverse and comprehensive educational opportunities  offered to students at every level within the Meyersdale Area School District. Grant awardees are as follows: Mr. T. Miller - Bird Banding class;  Miss L. Ritchey - four keyboards and a speaker; Mr. H. Montgomery -  26 scientific calculators; Mrs. M. Edwards - Spelling City Premium membership; Mrs. S. Kucenic -  library stations; Mrs. K. Howard - Baritone instrument; Mrs. R. Hay - speech therapy instruments; and Mrs. A. Brant - camera for Middle School newspaper. 

For Mrs. Howard, the purchase of an additional Baritone instrument will benefit the music programs at MASD for years to come. 

“I'm exceptionally thankful to the Foundation for granting me the money necessary to purchase a new baritone. I have more baritone students than I do instruments currently, which is a great problem, but this does present an issue because students have to share and sometimes because of lessons, two students need one instrument at the same time,” Howard explained. “This baritone will allow me to ease that stress a bit.”

Ritchey expressed the same level of gratitude, as her grant will also greatly benefit the music education of students.  

“I requested to order four new keyboards to add to our piano/keyboard lab in the general music classroom. Each student is now able to work individually instead of having to take turns sharing keyboards,” Ritchey explained. “Our new music curriculum includes numerous opportunities to learn keyboard skills; now we can finally learn these skills without worrying about access to equipment.”

Improving the communications skills of students with special needs was the goal of Mrs. Hay’s request for speech therapy equipment.

“I am so excited to have been chosen as a grant recipient. As the district speech and language therapist I work with students who have communication difficulties. Sometimes that means a student has very little or no functional speech,” Hay explained. “The speech generating devices I have received will enable our most limited talkers to express their wants and needs clearly and without frustration. In most cases these devices serve as a temporary tool to support a student's communication development.”

For Mr. Montgomery, the purchase of scientific calculators will have a significant impact on student achievement in the classrooms and help to prepare them for their education following high school. .

“I requested a classroom set of 26 TI30x Professional calculators through the grant.  The goal is to help our students become more familiar with calculators that they will be using on the PSAT, SAT and college entrance exams,” Montgomery explained.  “I requested them because I noticed that since we've been using the Chromebook calculators, which can't be used on standardized tests, in the math curriculum that a lot of students have limited proficiency with calculators that are required for those other exams.”

Mrs. Edwards’ students, in grade seven, will now have access to a greater variety of activities through an online program that assists students with spelling. 

“I am utilizing the grant to purchase premium Spelling City accounts for my students.  The accounts enable my students to study their spelling words at home by playing interactive spelling and vocabulary games.”

Through the grant, Mr. T. Miller will be able to provide specialized instruction for his high school classes.

“I was awarded a grant to take a class on aging birds based upon their feather molting patterns.  The class will help me improve by instruction in elective ornithology, envirothon competition and biology classes.”

 The purchase of a camera will enhance the learning opportunities for students involved with the publishing of the Middle School newspaper, The Middle School Messenger. Each month, students work on articles and then publish a newspaper designed by and for the Middle School students during Personalized Learning Time. Having their own camera will allow them to more fully cover events enjoyed by Middle School students.

The grant awarded to Mrs. S. Kucenic will allow her to expand the scope of instruction in the Media Center.

“The purpose of the grant is to provide coding resources to all elementary students and incorporate critical thinking and problem solving with a variety of  library activities,” she explained. 

According to Chloe Thomas, Human Resource Manager, the MAEF offers two rounds of grants during each school year.

The MAEF has an amount of money which has grown through fundraisers and donations.  They look at the grants that are requested in the spring and fall and make decisions on which they will approve and how much they will give,” Thomas explained. “The MAEF Board reviews and discusses each request.”

The MAEF Board includes the following community members:  Leanne Renzi, John Smaila, Craig Gindlesperger, Ken Warnick, Bill Kerrick, Andrew Thomas, Heather Smith and Thomas

Funding for these mini-grants is made possible through fundraisers and donations. Most recently, the Board has started a fundraiser held during the Alumni Banquet. The classes are encouraged to participate in a challenge to raise the most money.  The class that raises the most money receives recognition in the local newspaper, a plaque displayed in the administration office, and on the school’s website. Class 1958 in 2018 and 1959 in 2019 were winners of the MAEF Alumni Challenge.

These mini-grants are greatly appreciated by staff and students alike, as they provide learning opportunities that inspire new skills, interests and experiences. 

For more information on how to make a one-time donation or establish a trust to benefit the Meyersdale Area School District, please contact Thomas at thomascf@masd.net or 814-634-5123 ext. 329.