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'Innovation Grants' for Inventive Educators
'Innovation Grants' for Inventive Educators
Posted on 01/30/2020
Thirty teachers will put new classroom ideas into action thanks to the BCS Foundation's 2020 Innovation Grants.(Featured Photo: Valley Springs Middle School students learn coding with Sphero robots obtained through a 2018 Innovation Grant. Photo by Stacia Harris, BCS Communications.)

By: Benjamin Rickert, BCS Communications

Great teachers make learning memorable and continually search for new ways to spark student curiosity.

Supporting these educators and their inventive goals is what the Buncombe County Schools Foundation’s (BCSF) Innovation Grant program is all about. This month, with the generous help of local businesses and partners, the foundation provided supplemental funding for special classroom projects totaling $16,373.68.

“Buncombe County Schools is blessed to have such creative teachers who deeply care about reaching the learning needs of all students,” said Ms. Debbie Bryant, a member of the BCSF Grant Review Committee. “Every year, I look forward to reading about the out-of-the-box, forward-thinking ideas that teachers across the district aim to incorporate in their classrooms.”

Because of this year’s Innovation Grants, 30 teachers across Buncombe County will put their ideas into action, bringing new tools and experiences to their schools. A Barnardsville Elementary teacher will provide small robots to coding students. A Progressive Education Program teacher has a vision for cooking projects with differently-abled students. Erwin Middle choir students will experience an adjudicated state competition.

In their proposals, teachers identified needs, defended the academic merit of their ideas, and outlined objectives and evaluation methods. The projects were designed to directly impact the learning of math, science, reading, health, the arts, and more.

At Pisgah Elementary, teacher Ms. Beth Myers received funding for 21 project-based STEM projects. Each ‘Story Design’ project challenges students to identify, investigate, refine, and solve problems covering a myriad of subjects. Her approach will also meet teaching goals in the areas of the English and language arts, science, mathematics, and computer science.

“It is my desire as a Kindergarten teacher to strengthen literacy through an inquiry-based approach while building problem-solving skills through cross-disciplinary integration,” explained Myers. “Ultimately, my hope is to create a love for reading and increase math aptitude while promoting creativity and the STEM process through this engaging and hands-on tool.”

This year, BCSF Innovation Grants were funded by Abbott Construction, Meritor, Fannie Bunn, Habitat for Humanity (North Buncombe), Harry’s on the Hill, and the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina’s Murray Fund.

"We look forward to funding even more proposals in future years, as our grant program and community connections continue to grow,” Bryant said.

2019-2020 Innovation Grant Recipients

Egg-cellent Incubator
Heather Kantor, EC Teacher
Enka Intermediate

Developing Physical Literacy
April Puett, PE Teacher
Candler Elementary

Erwin Choir to MPA/All State Spring 2020
Lindsey Costner, Teacher
Clyde A. Erwin Middle

The Lion King Jr.
Rob Miller, Teacher
North Windy Ridge Intermediate, North Buncombe Middle

Vibrant Rhythms: An Interdisciplinary Study of African Inspired Arts & Music
Patti Lloyd, Visual Arts Teacher
Charles D. Owen Middle

Tape Art Mural
Nerina Patane, Teacher
T.C. Roberson High School

Historical Music Study Using Baroque Bows
Elizabeth Terry, Orchestra Teacher
Valley Spring Middle, T.C. Roberson High School

Hands on Math
Elsa Iglesias, EC Instructional Coach
C.T. Koontz Intermediate, W.W. Estes Elementary, W.D. Williams Elementary

Wilson Kits for Exceptional Children 
Cindy Malgadey, EC Instructional Coach
Special Services

Building Reading Accuracy & Fluency
Cindy Malgady, EC Instructional Coach
Special Services

Play away, Play away
Emma Stephens, Teacher
Fairview Elementary

Full Steam Ahead in Kindergarten
Beth Myers, Teacher
Pisgah Elementary

Active Bodies, Active Minds
Joshua Frisby, PE Teacher
Johnston Elementary

A Sensory Path to Self-Regulation
Shanna Pelle, EC Teacher
Woodfin Elementary

Help Enrich the Curriculum Through Coding Spheros
Stacie Keitt, AIG Teacher
Barnardsville Elementary

Decodable Readers
Kelly Zumwalt, Teacher
North Buncombe Elementary

Get Your Read On
Melissa Justen, Teacher
Avery’s Creek Elementary

Active Seating Initiative
Jennifer Morris, Teacher
Avery’s Creek Elementary

Student Learning and Decrease Classroom Disruption
Laura Holst, School Counselor
Oakley Elementary

Bringing Literature & Hands-On Together!
Molly Carver, Special Ed Teacher
Pisgah Elementary

High Noon Books
Lakeisha Lee, EC Teacher
Enka Intermediate

Math, Language & Daily Living
Kathryn Medford, EC Teacher
Enka Intermediate

Sensory Items for EC Class
Jennifer Manis, EC Teacher
Progressive Education, Valley Springs Middle

Phonemic Awareness for EC
Carley Stein, EC Literacy Coach
Special Services

Calming Kits for the Classroom
Molly Pittman, Social Worker
Enka Middle School

Jets Soar Together
Katherine Thomas, PE Teacher
Enka Intermediate

A Quest for Science
Jeff Baggett, Teacher
Clyde A. Erwin Middle

Multicultural Learning Library for Empowerment
Emily Carter, Teacher
Charles D. Owen High, Charles D. Owen Middle

Let’s Get Cooking
Peyton Young, Teacher
Progressive Education
Valley Springs Middle

Team Time Leadership
Amy Jamerson, School Counselor
North Windy Ridge Intermediate

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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