With the back-to-school season just around the corner, the White Salmon Valley Education Foundation is announcing the results of its latest round of grants, as well as some changes to the organization's board.

"Successful grant applications for the summer 2010 funding ran the gamut from arts and music, to teacher training and technology, for a total outlay of more than $21,000," said new Education Foundation President Sue Davis.

The largest amount, $5,944, went to a beginning Mariachi Ensemble at Columbia High School. The funds will be used to purchase authentic Mariachi instruments; create a Mariachi CD Listening Library as well as a sheet music and method book library; and fund a total of three concerts throughout the school year. The program will start with the coming school year.

"The grant committee agreed with the applicants for the Mariachi program -- this program will help an underserved student community celebrate their heritage and culture," said Davis.

Three programs at Henkle Middle School received funding. Two of them concentrate on leadership training. Contemporary education research demonstrates that a Professional Learning Community (PLC) offers a consistently effective model for schools to ensure all students learn at high levels.

A $3,301 grant will fund the hiring of a PLC trainer at Henkle. The training will provide selected teacher leaders with group facilitation, collaboration, conflict resolution tools, and other skills to support them in the growth of a PLC at the middle school.

Training some of our future leaders is the goal of the "Boys Leadership Group" at Henkle Middle School. Community men will mentor the boys, teaching and demonstrating through experiential learning the qualities that comprise strong character. In turn, the boys will use that experience to perform school and community service, as well as mentor younger boys in their own school.

The Boys Leadership Group, which started last spring with support from the Gorge United Way, will receive $1,569 for the 2010-2011 school year from the Education Foundation.

Finally, Henkle Middle School will receive $2,695 for the "Wordstock for Teachers" program. This training program helps writing teachers engage and inspire students and themselves by increasing students' writing skills and confidence.

Grant applicant and 5th grade teacher Amy Sacquety said, "I have used techniques from this course the last two years within my instruction. I stepped out of teaching writing with a red pen and see now that every child is a writer -- no matter what their skill level may be." The grant will send three teachers to Wordstock the first year, and four teachers the second.

Students at Whitson Elementary School will benefit from the remaining two grants.

A total of $5,850 will go to fund an arts curriculum called ArtsEd Washington. Currently, Whitson Elementary does not have an arts curriculum. The requested funds will be used to cover the costs of staff development, as well as the purchase of curriculum materials, including grade level notebooks, administrator notebooks, professional development workshops, curriculum CDs and an intranet subscription.

"The curriculum will be valuable in ensuring arts learning for every student in our school," said Davis.

An additional $2,015 will fund the purchase of digital cameras and a camcorder to capture the creative learning process, as well as projects in the first grade classrooms. Teachers will integrate the technology across the board using it as a tool in arts, reading, writing, math, science, social studies and communications.

"The current economic troubles are taking a huge toll on our local schools," said Davis. "Every additional tool and training opportunity we can provide becomes much more valuable. And we feel incredibly fortunate to be in a community that continues to step up to help our children."

Along with the bi-annual grant awards, the Education Foundation announced annual changes to the board. The new board president is Sue Davis. Other officer positions are: Anne-Marie Slater, past president; Kate Stevenson O'Donnell, vice president; Matt Hanson, treasurer; Margaret Neuman, secretary. Other board members include Ronda Crumpacker, Jen Harty, Lorena Lowell, Steve Nordlund, and Jason Spadaro. Advisors to the board are Jerry Lewis, superintendent of Schools; and Lesley Apple Haskell, legal counsel from Wyers, Haskell, Davies and Dunn.

Finally, the Education Foundation board bids a fond farewell to founding board members Donna Rockwell and Diane Crumpacker, and to Ryan Kreps, who joined in 2007.

"Both Donna and Diane have been integral parts of building our organization, and we appreciate their hundreds of hours of service and their passion for education in our community," said Davis. "And Ryan's commitment to advising our board on technology use and investments, as well as his invaluable information technology support at our annual Gorge Grape Escape has been a big bonus to our fundraising efforts. Thank you to all."

For more information, or to make a donation, visit www.wsvef.org or call (509)493-1175.

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