- Sponsorship -

Grants Run Gamut of Classroom Needs

Thanks to the district’s fundraising arm, Cindy Donahue and Pat Sinen will be able to purchase weighted blankets and other calming devices for Alto Elementary students with special needs. Middle school teachers Jason Lake and Scott Hall will add an earthquake simulator meant to test sixth-graders’ ability to build strong structures and STEM skills. And Jacquelyn Fliehman will get to buy an electric guitar and amplifier that will make it possible for music students to rock the halls of Murray Lake Elementary.

Those are three of 16 requests, totaling nearly $21,000 in funding, that were approved recently by the Lowell Education Foundation.

Sinen, an occupational therapist, and Donahue, a special education teacher, work in a classroom that has high-needs students including several with autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome.

Alto Elementary student Ava Candela calms herself with a weighted blanket

“The teacher has a small tent that the students can go into with the weighted blanket on them,” Sinen said. “Students have learned that this is a place to calm down, and then they are ready to come out and join the group for learning.”

Before these tools were available, Sinen explained, “students’ sensory systems were disorganized, and they were having a difficult time making sense of their environment. In general, these few sensory tools have provided the class the ability to increase attention and focus for academics.”

Sinen said more students than ever are having difficulties with attention and focus for learning.

“If it weren’t for these grants, there would not be sensory tool lending libraries for teachers to access tools for general and special education students in all our elementary schools,” she said. “The LEF is a true treasure.”

The Lowell Education Foundation has raised more than $350,000 since it was formed in 1995 to help fund efforts not included in the district’s operating budget.


Lowell Education Foundation

LEF grant helps draw (and paint!) attention to America’s longest scenic trail

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


The sky’s the limit (or is it?) for this accomplished model builder

Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts...

For MLK Day, educators discuss improving equity in education

A leading advocate on equity in education says Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy requires educators to dig deeper into making sure all students have what they need to thrive...

Virtual job-shadow opportunities available

Groundhog Shadow Day, which gives area students an inside look at different careers, is going virtual this year...

‘Hope on the horizon’ as local teachers start getting COVID-19 vaccine

Lincoln School special education teacher, Ann Post believes there is 'hope on the horizon' for Kent ISD teachers and educators across Kent County after receiving her first round of the COVID-19 vaccine...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Nate Fowler named new superintendent for Lowell Area Schools

Interim superintendent given the nod by Lowell Board of Education to lead the district...

Schools, organizations step up to feed students, families

Area schools continue to provide free grab and go meals at regular distribution events and community partners are helping to fill in the gaps to make sure everyone is fed during a very challenging time...

Students switch to Zoom for traditional visit to senior home

Students at Murray Lake Elementary didn’t want to miss the chance to spread holiday cheer to their senior neighbors, even though they couldn’t visit in person...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU