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Education foundation awards 16 teacher requests for funding, totaling nearly $12,900

A “virtual whiteboard” to help teach math and physics to both in-person and virtual students at Lowell High School is one of several grant requests that were approved in October by the Lowell Education Foundation.

The LEF recently awarded 16 teacher requests for funding, totaling nearly $12,900. This leaves approximately $12,000 in available grant funds, which the foundation plans to save for either spring mini-grants or to fund requests that arise this year due to COVID-19 uncertainty. 

Using an iPad Air, Apple Pencil and projector combination, the virtual whiteboard will allow teacher Tim Dimmick to draw diagrams, shapes and other notes on the iPad screen while projecting it to be visible to in-person students. At the same time, the lecture is recorded in video format and PDFs with all of the notes and diagrams are created from what is drawn on screen. 

“The virtual whiteboard has been vital to my AP statistics class, especially with the uncertain times we live in,” said Lowell High School senior Sierra Hieshetter, who served as a student advisor to foundation members as they considered the grant proposals. “Being able to record the lecture and post it to our Google Classroom allows for extra review of harder subjects and an easy way to catch up if you are absent. 

“With people being gone due to (COVID-19) symptoms or contact tracing, it would be easy to fall behind, but this system is a real stress reliever because you know you aren’t missing information.” 

Other grants approved this year included a 360-degree camera for recording middle and high school concerts to share virtually, outdoor recreation equipment for socially distanced recess at Alto Elementary, flexible and movable seating options at Murray Lake Elementary and a virtual reality headset for high school engineering and architecture classes. The LEF has raised more than $350,000 since it was formed in 1995 to help fund efforts not included in the district’s operating budget. Private donations and the Lowell Community Fund help maintain the foundation.

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Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell is a reporter and copy editor, covering Cedar Springs, Godfrey-Lee, Grandville and Lowell. She is an award-winning journalist who got her start as the education reporter for the Grand Haven Tribune. A Calvin University graduate, she later returned to her alma mater to help manage its national writing festival and edit and write for enrollment communications. Beth has also written for The Grand Rapids Press, Fox 17 and several West Michigan businesses and nonprofits. She is fascinated by the nuances of language, loves to travel and has strong feelings about the Oxford comma. Read Beth's full bio

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