Holmes Harbor Rod &Gun Club board member Steve Mooney presented fifth-grade teacher John LaVassar with a $1,200 check to fund the Elementary School’s ‘Salmon in the Classroom’ project on Jan. 19. The Club is the fifth and latest sponsor of the South Whidbey Schools Foundation’s Adopt-A-Grant program.
The salmon project teaches K-5 students the complexities of the salmon lifecycle and environmental conservation using curriculum developed by Whidbey Watershed Stewards. The organization’s Educational Director, Lori O’Brien, M.A., works closely with students and teachers. One of the highlights of the project involves students raising several hundred coho salmon from egg to fry for release into Maxwelton Creek in the spring.
Mooney explained in a press release that the project is a perfect fit for Holmes Harbor Rod &Gun Club because its mission includes a focus on education, conservation, and recreational fishing.
Other foundation classroom grants adopted for this school year include: “Mr. Good: Mad, Fun, Science,” a fifth-grade project that brings local icon Leonard Good into the classroom to demonstrate physical science concepts of chemistry, matter and reactions. Dr. Ervin Knezek adopted the $1,400 project; “MakerSpace STEM kits 2016,” managed by teacher Valerie Brown, teaches students science and engineering principles, and was adopted by Dan &Ellen Sargent with a $750 contribution; “Focused Space for All,” managed by first-grade teacher Michele Zisette, provides noise-canceling headphones so students have fewer distractions, and was adopted by Mary and Steve Boyd with a $439 donation; and “Band Clinicians,” managed by music director Chris Harshman, which brings music professionals to work with band students.
“The foundation created the “Adopt-a-Grant” program because each year the South Whidbey Schools Foundation receives innovative teaching grant requests that exceed available funds,” Board President Chris Gibson said. “In only its second year, the program has nearly closed the gap in funding, having connected five previously unfunded projects with community members willing to “adopt” the project,” he added.
“We wanted to welcome and support the new teachers, as well as those in new classroom positions this year,” said South Whidbey Schools Foundation President Chris Gibson. “Many teachers use their own money to help outfit their classrooms and this was our way of showing them that the Foundation cares.”
Michele Sakaguchi, one of the teachers who received a stipend and is making the transition to teach eighth grade math at Langley Middle School, said that “not only are the funds helpful in purchasing materials and supplies for my new classroom, but it’s also great to feel the support that the stipend represents from the South Whidbey Schools Foundation and our community that supports the Foundation.”
In addition to the stipends, the foundation awards classroom grants through the annual South Whidbey Schools Foundation grant program. Last year, nearly $30,000 was awarded to 26 local teachers to support creative and innovative learning projects that would not otherwise be within district funding allocations.
Visit www.swsfoundation.org to learn more about the Foundation’s “Adopt-A-Grant” program and other ways the community can support local teachers and schools.
Eleven teachers in the South Whidbey School District were recently surprised with grant letters totaling $20,000 for 13 classroom project requests.
Jean Shaw of the South Whidbey Schools Foundation and Jim Freeman, a Freeland “Conductor of Fun,” made surprise visits to the classrooms on Nov. 9 with balloons in hand, a top hat, feather boa and crown.
Grant awards ranged from $439 to $3,000. Each campus received at least one grant award, and some of the projects funded involve all campuses.
The projects included the reviving of performing arts at the high school; digital cameras for use in the journalism/yearbook program; funding for local musician clinics to work with members of the Langley Middle School Band; sponsoring a marine studies program at the Elementary School; providing seed money to help broaden the reach of the 8th grade Adventure Education program; purchasing a Sensory Water Table for Life Skills students; and purchasing recorders so students can participate in a collaborative effort with the Saratoga Orchestra engaged in a Carnegie Hall-sponsored music education program titled “The Orchestra Rocks.”
The foundation funded 13 out of the 16 requests by teachers. It also found a patron to fund one of three unfunded project proposals through its Adopt-A-Grant program.
Additional fundraising efforts, like Dine-Out Wednesday or a donation appeal drive at the end of the year, will go toward providing partial funding for the remaining three project requests, the press release said. The foundation is seeking patrons for the remaining two unfunded project proposals.
Foundation Board President Chris Gibson said in a press release that while the number of grant applications received was slightly less than last year “all those we did receive were innovative, well-presented and worthy of funding.”
More information about the South Whidbey Schools Foundation, including a full list of the projects funded this fall, the Adopt-A-Grant program, and how to make tax-deductible contributions, can be found at www.swsfoundation.org.
Watershed Stewards, South Whidbey schools stoke the fires of science
by KATE DANIEL , South Whidbey Record Features And Education
Nov 29, 2014 at 8:00AM
South Whidbey sixth and seventh-grade students are learning firsthand about Puget Sound’s aquatic ecosystem through the Langley Middle School Oceanography Program.
The program provides students with the opportunity to learn through field-based studies at South Whidbey Harbor marina in Langley and lab studies in the classroom.
Whidbey Watershed Stewards partnered with South Whidbey School District for the course, which is now in its second year. Last year, the program was only open to sixth graders. But thanks in part to a grant of $1,280 from the South Whidbey Schools Foundation, as well as funding from the Rose Foundation and Langley Community Club, seventh graders are now participating. The seventh graders are building upon the knowledge gleaned from sixth-grade studies to examine marine conditions related to plankton population and health through collection, reporting and analysis; seventh-grade curriculum is primarily focused upon the technological aspect of collection and evaluation. Eventually, organizers hope to extend the program with eighth graders.
The program is ongoing throughout the school year allowing students to make predictions and examine seasonal fluctuations.
“They are not just studying science, they’re being scientists,” said Susan Milan, a seventh-grade Langley Middle School teacher.
Milan explained that the kids are learning about pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature and salinity and the ways in which these factors relate to plankton species, credited as being the base of the Salish Sea food web. Milan said they are also examining the resident orca population and chinook salmon populations.
A significant question Milan said the students will ponder is, “How do our everyday actions connect to environmental and human health?”
“We are the generation that is going to have to deal with what is happening to the ocean,” said seventh-grade student Megan Reeves.
“It teaches what goes on around us, how it relates to us, because it’s right there,” said Ahnika Burt, another seventh-grade student, referring to the ocean and its effects on human life.
Lori O’Brien, Whidbey Watershed Stewards education director, instructed a group of seventh-grade students at the marina dock last week. The students, she explained, were gathering samples, making scientific predictions and checking their predictions.
The students were divided into three groups, one of which was performing water quality tests with a Van Dorn bottle.
A second group, at the far end of the dock, collected plankton and studied the effects of ocean acidification.
In addition to the firsthand collection and examinations, said O’Brien, the students compare their data with that collected by the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems from buoys near Sandy Point and Mukilteo.
The students are getting a lesson in engineering as well, she said. Sixth graders are designing plankton nets in order to develop their own testing method to try out. Each month, the students make design adjustments in order to increase effectiveness. Similarly, seventh graders have been tasked with devising a way to place a thermometer inside the Van Dorn bottles for a more accurate temperature reading.
Rick Baker, executive director for Watershed Stewards, has experience working in oceanography education, having previously run the education program for the Ocean Institute in Southern California for 22 years plus 12 years teaching oceanography at a community college.
Baker said the kids are “thrilled” about the program and are “really psyched” about the opportunity to examine plankton up-close and run tests.
The organized stations and activities, said Baker, are often supplemented by aquatic visitors such as jellyfish and harbor seals. Recently, he added, the students were also able to speak with a scuba diver who was examining the sea star wasting syndrome.
At the end of the school year, seventh graders will do offshore studies from aboard a boat.
“It teaches them the scientific process, which I think is really important. A lot of people don’t know how science works,” said Baker. “If you take kids to a museum or aquarium, it’s one shot. Kids are there for one day and then they go home and forget what they did. This is ongoing.”