Riverbend Elementary School students build a car using Tinkering Kits AIG Teacher Sam Yancey purchased with grant money he received last year from the Haywood County Schools Foundation. Haywood County Schools teachers can apply for six different grants from the Haywood County Schools Foundation.

Applications are now open for 2019 Haywood County Schools Foundation faculty grants.

This year, grants are sponsored by Duke Energy, Evergreen Packaging, First Citizens Banks, QuickDraw, the Arc of Haywood County, and the Haywood County Schools Foundation. The grants fund resources for teachers and staff to enrich the learning experience for students.

Applications must be submitted electronically at www.hcsf.haywood.k12.nc.us before October 4, 2019. Teachers applying for multiple grants must submit an application for each grant. Grant applications for the Arc of Haywood County have already been emailed to exceptional children (EC) teachers.

Winners will be selected after committees representing each grant review applications. Teachers who won grants will be invited to a Grant Recipient Reception at Pisgah High School on November 12.

Each grant sponsor has different requirements and focuses of study. The QuickDraw art grant provides funds for art teachers to purchase materials for art education projects. The First Citizens Bank grant provides funding to schools and teachers for reading initiatives. The Duke Energy and Evergreen Packaging grants are for projects in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Professional growth and development are the focus of the Haywood County Schools Foundation grant and is available to teachers, faculty, and staff. Funding for the professional development grant is raised through Haywood County Schools Foundation fundraisers like the Mardi Gras Ball and bingo. The Arc of Haywood County provides grants to Haywood County Schools’ EC teachers.

Last year, the Haywood County Schools Foundation gave 172 grants to teachers totaling $42,895.

Sam Yancey, fourth grade Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) specialist, received both the Duke Energy and Evergreen Packaging grants last year.

“STEM is critical for elementary students for a lot of reasons because it’s what they most enjoy,” Yancey explained. “If we’re too busy for STEM, we’re too busy for the most meaningful and impactful learning moments; and if we want students to be life-long learners, we must find a way to consistently offer them such opportunities.”

Using funds from the Evergreen grant, Yancey purchased LittleBits Inventor Kit Droids, which have electronic circuit bits that connect using magnetism to build an R2D2 droid. Students then complete 19 coding missions using an app with block-based computer code. Students code with sequence, lights, loops, conditions, and events.

As for the Duke Energy Grant, Yancey asked for Tinkering Kits as a way for students to truly think like engineers. The sets came with wooden parts, batteries, black and red wires, rubber bands, and some idea cards. Students can then use the pieces to design a machine that flings a disk, draws interesting designs with markers, or mirrors the suspension of a car. Yancey also purchased four coding flying drones and three Dash robots with remaining funds from the grant.

Yancey believes that STEM-based projects give students the opportunity to create, imagine, and explore while solving problems individually and in teams.

“Each grant is really investing in Haywood County students, both in the long and short term,” Yancey said. “I hope that some students will come back and invest in the community and people of Haywood County, just as others before them gave so that they could have better opportunities.”

For more information, contact Haywood County Schools Foundation Executive Director Jenny Wood at jwood@haywood.k12.nc.us or call 828-456-2400.

Submitted by: Carrie Sutton, HCS Foundation