MONROE – The Union County Education Foundation will award a $5,000 GROW Grant to Benton Heights School of the Arts to create an outdoor sensory garden.
The Benton Heights team of Candice Boatright, Kalli Clements, Justine Jones, Angela McAuley and Zackary Winchester wrote in their application that an outdoor classroom will provide opportunities for project- and problem-based learning, as well as deliver a natural bridge between disciplines like arts, math and science.
“The GROW Grant is not necessarily a grant opportunity for outdoor spaces or outdoor gardens, but we’re two for two so far,” Executive Director Amy Sperry said.
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Western Union Elementary School won last year’s inaugural GROW Grant. The school used the money to create an outdoor classroom with garden beds.
“It couldn’t have been a better first program for us,” Sperry said. “It was an opportunity for many community groups to be a part of their outdoor classroom.”
The Union County Education Foundation has been supporting Union County Public Schools since 2011. Sperry encouraged any business that wants to partner on projects such as the GROW Grant to reach out to the 501c3 nonprofit.
“The GROW Grant was established to encourage teachers to work together and brainstorm a really big idea for their students versus our LIFT grant, which is primarily an individual teacher grant,” she said. LIFT grants range from $500 to $1,500.
The GROW Grant aligns with the UCPS’s empowered framework, which encourages teachers to create, collaborate and connect, she said. The grant application specifically asks how projects do this.
While last year’s grant announcement was made in a surprise visit to Western Union Elementary, Sperry had to share the news of this year’s winner April 2 from her home on Facebook Live due to social distancing guidelines.
Boatright joked in the comments that the awards banner was a nice decoration in Sperry’s home. Sperry replied it might be there for a while.
On the web: www.ucedfoundation.org/
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