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Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Forest Hills — When her students must plank on their living room floors and pump iron in the basement rather than the weight room, Eastern High School physical education teacher Jacquie Brown says a one-year subscription to PLT4M means she knows her students’ activities are hitting the necessary marks while they learn from home. 

Brown’s was one of 15 requests for funding that were recently approved by the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation. The fall round of approved grants totaled $28,285.

“This fantastic resource allows students to have a high-quality physical education lesson that helps hold them accountable when working in a virtual setting,” Brown said. 

Other grants include virtual reality headsets that will allow Eastern High School students to “travel” to various locations and experience art and art venues in a simulated 3D space, resistance loop bands for Northern Hills Middle students to better focus while in class and an online collaboration bulletin board for third-grade classrooms at Pine Ridge Elementary.

Ella O’Rourke works out at home using the grant-funded program

Michele Wallace and Anne Rothenthaler, English language arts teachers at Central Middle, received a grant to purchase books for a new unit of study for eighth-graders of contemporary fiction with a focus on social issues. 

“The idea of choice and peer engagement appeals to students, which has been shown to create more willing and engaged readers,” Wallace said. “Our hope is that we can capture reluctant readers before they move on to high school. We want all CMS students to leave having developed strong, independent reading habits.” 

Kristy Butler, a science teacher at Central High School, received a grant to purchase blue light DNA transilluminators that will help students analyze data and run experiments more efficiently.

“I can honestly say that the foundation has been essential in allowing our students to become scientists in our classrooms,” Butler said. “We know that science is a verb and that to learn it best, students have to do science.”

The foundation grants funds for creative, unique programs and activities that promote academic and artistic excellence, and are beyond normal school budgetary and operational scope.  

“We are super-excited to support the fabulous educators within Forest Hills and look forward to seeing these grant dollars at work in the classroom,” said foundation President Jana Siminski. Additionally, the foundation’s annual gala — held online this year — raised another $94,875 in a single evening to fund dozens more efforts, including the purchase of culturally responsive reading materials in several buildings, a new chicken coop at Goodwillie School, and remote and project-based learning resources at Central High.

Amanda Bond does a plank at home as she follows along to a grant-funded online program

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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.

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