Foundation awards $5,500 in major grants

Posted August 1, 2022

The Plymouth Education Foundation has awarded two grants totaling $5,500 to Plymouth School District faculty for the 2022-23 school year.

plants growing in garden

The Fairview Elementary School garden will be developing an outdoor learning center, thanks to a grant from the Plymouth Education Foundation.

Turning Dividers Into Uniters

Amount: $3,000
Impact: Fairview Elementary School
Applicant: Kelly Drews, Fairview kindergarten teacher and garden champion

This grant will help enhance the garden area at Fairview and develop an outdoor learning center for use by students and their families. “Over the last few decades, children’s exposure to nature has declined dramatically,” Ms. Drews noted in her application. “Who wins with more time outdoors and the exposure to the natural elements? I would argue it is everyone.”

Plans call for one area to be dedicated to sustainability through recycling, conservation, and compost education. Another will feature music and arts. There also will be a teaching area with a utility cart and blackboard, supplemented by teaching materials that engage classes outdoors.

Fairview also plans to expand its raised planting beds and add a greenhouse, to allow classes to sow more seeds and expand the growing window. This covered space could be used on days when weather is not favorable.

The project will recycle plexiglass dividers used for Covid-19 mitigation efforts. “It models for students how we are not just talking about the importance of recycling and sustainability but walking the walk by using these materials in these spaces,” Ms. Drews wrote.

plants growing in garden

An outdoor play enrichment area will be added to the Parkview Elementary School Nature Center, thanks to a grant from the Plymouth Education Foundation.

Outdoor Play Area

Amount: $2,500
Impact: Parkview Elementary School
Applicant: Julie Kohlmann, Parkview grades 2-3 teacher and garden champion

Parkview will add an outdoor play enrichment area to the school’s existing Nature Center, which has evolved over the years and currently features an open area with mostly trees around its perimeter, and a grapevine arbor.

“The grapevine arbor has two benches inside; I love watching kids flipping them over, turning them into buses, cars, beds, whatever the imagination needs,” Mrs. Kohlmann wrote in her grant application. “My current proposal is rooted in that type of creative, imaginative play. Watching kids work together on a common goal – having opportunities for communication, managing conflict, assigning roles, and teamwork – is a type of magical, natural learning opportunity that fosters social/emotional growth.”

Plans are to enhance the Nature Center with structures promoting creative and imaginative play, including a sandbox with kitchen-type play features, a rowboat with oars, a theater stage, and a revamped grapevine arbor to foster playing house and school.

“Kids need support to successfully recognize and manage their emotions, be a good friend, communicate effectively with each other, work cooperatively with a group, manage conflict, create, imagine, and practice kindness,” Mrs. Kohlmann wrote. “The new play structures would foster opportunities for all of these skills to grow in the children at Parkview – and all in an outdoor space!”

About Plymouth Education Foundation grants

The Plymouth Education Foundation established its grant program in 2016 to provide seed money to fund innovative initiatives that enhance the educational experience for students in the Plymouth School District. It has awarded more than $85,000, including the $30,000 given last school year for Battle of the Books at Horizon; science stations in the PHS Agriculture Classroom; and Covid flex seating, a Books For All initiative, auditorium upgrades, and a laser engraver at Riverview.

The foundation also awards mini-grants of up to $500 apiece. Introduced in 2019, mini-grants allow faculty and staff to submit a simple application as needs arise, with applications accepted year round until $5,000 has been awarded. To date, approximately $13,000 has been provided in 30 different mini-grants.

Learn more:
• Read more about the 2021-22 Foundation Mini-Grants.
• Visit the Plymouth Education Foundation Grants webage.
• Explore the Innovative Opportunities section of our interactive, award-winning District Report Card to learn more about how our students become leaders using modern, cool resources.