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MAEF grants distributed

Hi-Point receives new equipment

MEYERSDALE - The annual disbursements of the Meyersdale Area Educational Fund will have a dramatic and lasting impact on the education of students in the Meyersdale Area School District. 

 

Because of the unusual nature of the 2020-2021 school year, just one cycle was awarded and committee members reviewed applications in February. The following requests were approved: Stacy Kucenic - Slatwall Book Display; Julia Smith - Classroom Transformations; Tom Miller - eBird Essentials Classes; Rene Hay - Augmentative Communication; Christine Custer - Yearbook Camera; and Angel Floyd - Pandemic Book Restock.

 

Angel Floyd, Media Specialist, said her grant will allow the library to be restocked following the truncated school year of 2019-2020.

 

“We had many books not returned last year due to the fact that we were not at the school to collect them.  Unfortunately, many of those books never came back to us when we returned to the building,” she explained.  

 

Stacy Kucenic, Media Specialist, received a grant to provide additional display opportunities for the wide array materials offered in the Media Center for our students. 

 

“I wrote the grant to purchase a 16-foot slat wall. It will be used as a display board for new upper elementary and middle school chapter books. It is intended to make a nice visual display and to modernize the library,” Kucenic explained.

 

Julia Smith, second grade teacher, received funding for various classroom transformations. 

 

“I ‘transform my classroom into a new learning environment to make the lesson more interactive and interesting to the students. I have done this in the past on a smaller scale, but I am expanding it with the help of this grant,” she explained. “Basically, the students participate in a lesson as a doctor, construction worker, chef, etc. They dress the part and complete activities that go with the ‘theme.’  I also decorate the classroom to match the theme.”

 

For Tom Miller, this grant will allow him to more fully explore ornithology with his high school Science students.

 

“My grant is a spin off of the one I got last year.  I was supposed to go to the Powdermill bird banding station and take a week long class on aging birds caught in mist nets by their molt limits in the flight feathers of the wing.  As with most in person activities, it was cancelled because of COVID.  In the place of that class, I found a series of online classes through Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology,” Miller explained. “The committee agreed to transfer monies that would've been used to pay for the bird banding course into paying for the Bird Academy courses offered by Cornell.  There are a number of courses I intend to take on a variety of topics including anatomy and physiology of birds, life history of birds, identifying various groups of birds, methods of identifying birds by size, shape and color patterns, bird behavior, observing and identifying birds in the field, journaling and sketching field observations and taking part in a citizen science program known as eBird that is run by Cornell and the National Audubon Society.”

 

Miller plans to directly incorporate what he learns into his Ornithology class and into his Biology class.

 

The MAHS yearbook staff, creators of Hi-Point, have anxiously been awaiting this news. The purchase of a new camera will allow staff members to capture more special moments and activities for publication in the annual book. Yearbook advisor, Chris Custer, said the camera will offer a dramatic improvement of the photos used for the publication.

 

Rene Hay, K - 12  Speech Language Therapist, was awarded a grant for Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices. These devices will benefit students with low or emerging verbal abilities so they can more effectively participate in regular or special education classrooms and with their peers.  GoTalk devices range in size from seven selection choices to 23.  A beginning communicator might use the seven choice board to express basic wants and needs such as "finished, help, more, drink, hurt.”  An advancing communicator might need 23 icons to make conversational comments or to share more specific ideas about a story or special topic.  Talking Brix are a set of three palm sized “talkers” that can be quickly and easily programmed.  They can be used as stand alone devices or be connected together to help students learn build phrases.

 

According to Chloe Thomas, Human Resource Manager, the MAEF typically offers two rounds of grants during each school year. However, due to COVID, just one round of grants was disbursed this year. Each year, applications are completed and then reviewed by members of the MAEF Committee. The MAEF Committee includes the following community members: Leanne Renzi, John Smaila, Craig Gindlesperger, Ken Warnick, Bill Kerrick, Andrew Thomas, Heather Smith and Thomas.

 

Committee member Ken Warnick said the applications were interesting and “I think the creativity and added classroom projects that were funded will benefit out students.”

 

“As a trustee of the MAEF, I enjoy reviewing the teachers' grant applications and discussing needs and ‘extras’ for the students here at MASD with the other members of the Foundation.  The requests of teachers show they think outside of the box and have the best interests of students at heart,” Leanne Renzi, committee member explained. “Teachers want to engage students in learning and have them be excited about it in the process.  Without the community, we would not be able to assist students and staff with implementing these ideas.” 

 

Thomas said the support of the community and donors continues to grow with each passing year. The impact these grants have on classrooms and, most importantly, on students is undeniable.

 

“The grants are very important to the enrichment of our students’ education. The requests are allowing teachers to use the money directly in their classrooms. The grants have been used to make learning more enjoyable, safer and have enabled students to be more effective and efficient in school,” she explained.

 

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. The Alumni Challenge was temporarily suspended following the cancellation of the 2020 banquet, but will resume this year.

 

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.