Outdoor Classroom, Basic Living Skills Among Projects Awarded Grants

Courtesy photo: Teacher Kyle Carhart’s seventh-graders take learning outside in October for Outdoor Classroom Day
Gifts for Learning

Following are the most recent grants awarded by the Lowell Education Foundation:

  • Mock Newbery club, $300, Middle School
  • Kindergarten science inquiry, $539, Bushnell Elementary
  • Studio flash lighting, $748, High School
  • Music tech microphones, $600, High School
  • Outdoor Classroom, $1,781, Middle School
  • Second grade Mastery Content, $1,245, Cherry Creek Elementary
  • Stuffing the Shelves, $500, High School
  • Ukuleles, $750, Murray Lake Elementary
  • Lessons for Life, $1,467, Middle and High School
  • iPads for education, $2,034, Murray Lake
  • Problem solving, $2,449, Cherry Creek
  • Capturing Quality, $415, High School
  • 90-second Newbery, $2,990, Middle School
  • Zen Room, $1,348, High School
  • Pond and Beyond data collection, $3,081, Wittenbach Wege Environmental and Agri-science Center

When most of the district’s seventh-graders took part in the global Outdoor Classroom Day in October, English teacher Andrea Struckmeyer was struck by how engaged they were.

“Even though it was cold and damp, students loved the change of venue and the creativity the staff put into our outdoor lessons and activities,” she said.

Thanks to Struckmeyer and a half-dozen of her fellow teachers, the middle school will be able to bring that engagement more often via a permanent outdoor classroom that could be used by all of the school’s more than 900 students.

Her grant request was one of 16 approved in the most recent round of awards from the Lowell Education Foundation.

The 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. President Heather Cooper said private donations and the Lowell Community Fund help maintain the foundation.

Deborah Greenhoe and Olivia McCain, special education teachers at the middle and high school, respectively, plan to launch Lessons for Life after winter break.

McCain said the program will teach students who have cognitive impairments about nutrition, shopping and cooking, hygiene, and daily living skills. Another aspect would be that high school students would serve as mentors for their younger counterparts.

“We prepare them academically, and this is a real area of need,” McCain said. “It’s really all about fostering independence.

Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema 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

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