As a teacher, you never quite know what you’re going to get in a virtual meeting, but for five Oregon School District educators, they were in for a nice surprise.
The Friends of the Oregon School District (FOSD) presented a pair of grants on Dec. 21 as part of their ongoing Creating Opportunities for Oregon Learners (COOL) Grant program.
Oregon Middle School teachers Bonnie Burton and Kit Laibly received $750 to bring in speakers on topics selected by Multicultural Student Union members, and Netherwood Knoll first grade teachers Stacy Sergent, Abby Scharbarh and Sue Bieno received $1,500 to purchase educational toys so each student can have their own set in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
FOSD established the COOL grant program with funds from the consolidation of the Oregon Area Educational Foundation with FOSD. Since 2019, it has dispersed more than $10,000 in funding for classroom-based initiatives that “support both the mission of FOSD and the values of the Oregon School District,” said FOSD co-founder Karin Victorson.
Burton and Laibly plan to bring in speakers from diverse backgrounds to speak to OMS students in the coming months.
“They know that students whose identities align with marginalized groups continue to face barriers in school and they believe that these speakers will engage students in developing and being proud of their unique cultural identities, because our schools and the Oregon community are richer places because of them,” Victorson said.
The Netherwood first-grade team plans to purchase items such as individual Lego sets, Play-Doh, and individual magnetic sets for students to build and play with during learning times, to help keep germs away from others.
“Due to the pandemic, students have not been able to use play manipulatives due to concerns about sharing and spreading germs,” she said.
For the 2019-20 school year, FOSD awarded COOL grants to Janet Pliner, a social/emotional coach for grades 5-12 throughout the district, and OHS associate principal Brad Ashmore. Their joint proposal was funding for signage and T-shirts to help promote the high school’s LINK crew, which is upperclassmen who volunteer to support freshmen during their first year.
The next grant cycle will be April 1-30, with funds awarded in June. Any educators interested in applying can visit friendsofosd.com/coolgrant-fund.