Two dozen Clay County educators share $20,000 grant

Money provided by Clay Education Foundation, Community First Cares Foundation

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 10/28/20

CLAY COUNTY – More than two dozen school district teachers received a portion of $20,000 of the Clay Education Foundation and the Community First Cares Foundation.

The two foundations delivered …

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Two dozen Clay County educators share $20,000 grant

Money provided by Clay Education Foundation, Community First Cares Foundation

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – More than two dozen school district teachers received a portion of $20,000 of the Clay Education Foundation and the Community First Cares Foundation.

The two foundations delivered grants ranging from $500 to $2,000 to 26 educators in the Clay County School District to help teachers fund new and unique STEAM projects for their students this year. The goal is for the grant to cover the cost of this year’s project for each teacher and the goal of each project is to tap into unique STEAM ideas that can be replicated for future classes.

“The grants are part of the Great Ideas Program, which is an annual program where each year, we look for innovative classroom projects in the areas of STEAM,” Clay Education Foundation executive director Makayla Buchanan said. “One of the main goals is to help stimulate unique STEAM projects in the school system that impact students in a special way.”

Grants were given to 26 recipients across 15 elementary, junior high and high schools. When teachers learned that their grant application was accepted however, they had no idea what was in store.

Buchanan said teachers were told they had a Google Meets meeting with someone from the county to discuss online learning and other things. This naturally put teachers on edge. The meeting started and in a couple of minutes into it, they were surprised to hear about winning a grant.

“It made me cry happy tears,” McRae Elementary sixth grade language arts teacher Amy Batchelor said. “I was going into the meeting to talk about online school and then all of a sudden, they jumped in and told me I was getting the grant. It was so nice and I was so excited and happy that I started crying.”

Batchelor is using the $500 grant to purchase 22 sets of the “Hunger Games” trilogy books. Her project is a nine-week project centered around the young adult dystopian novel series written by Suzanne Collins. Students will be placed into districts, much like the districts system in the story of “Hunger Games,” and then tributes will be selected.

“I love reading and I want my students to love it, too,” Batchelor said. “This grant allows me to enrich my students’ lives with reading in a very special and unique way.”

Batchelor is excited to continue this project and hopes to swap in other young adult dystopian series’ like “The Maze Runner” and “Divergent.”

Executive director of the Community First Cares Foundation, Missy Peters, was able to help Buchanan announce the news to teachers, and she said it was a wonderful experience. Community First is a credit union created by educators for educators and the foundation is just a natural extension of that. Peters said the foundation was presented $10,000 to the program. Clay Education Foundation matched that $10,000, which brought the total to $20,000.

“It was a no-brainer for us,” Peters said. “2020 and COVID-19 have posed some unique challenges and opportunities for teachers so to be able to fund teacher-led projects for virtual and in-person classrooms was something we were happy to have the opportunity to do.

“To see the joy these teachers had first-hand, and to know our foundation was able to help make that happen, it means a lot. It was a joyous experience for everyone involved.”

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