South Park Education Foundation Awards Five Educator Grants

South Park Education Foundation Awards Five Educator Grants
Posted on 04/06/2022
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Five new educational programs and initiatives are launching throughout the South Park School District this spring thanks to funding from the South Park Education Foundation. Earlier this school year, the South Park Education Foundation opened applications for its second round of SPark Grants. South Park educators in every school were given the opportunity to dream big and apply for funding through the Foundation. All applications were reviewed by the South Park Education Foundation’s grants committee, a group of area educators who work in administrative roles throughout western Pennsylvania. The Foundation’s Board of Directors voted to approve more than $4,200 in grants this semester. The 2021-2022 SPark Grants Program was supported by PNC Bank.


The projects coming to South Park schools thanks to the South Park Education Foundation include:


South Park Elementary Center Chill Corners: This pilot program will extend the resources of Allegheny Health Network’s Chill Room at the elementary center to one classroom in each grade-level. The Chill Room, part of AHN’s Chill Project, provides a mindfulness-informed and preventative school-based behavioral health program for students and staff. Counselors equip students with the techniques to achieve greater academic success, reduced anxiety, and better decision making. Each classroom in this pilot program will receive sensory items, calming methodologies and techniques based in mindful practices, and instructional tools. The application was submitted by teachers Ellisen Lowe, Angela Cieslak, Anne Meikle, Melanie Lewandowski, and Jessica Kurek, along with Cheyenne Kovach, AHN therapist, and Kathy Wooddell, AHN behavioral health educator.


South Park Middle School Book Vending Machine: Eagle readers are future leaders. That’s why the South Park Education Foundation was thrilled to support the proposal from sixth grade ELA teacher Nicole Ruscitto. Thanks to funding from the Foundation, Mrs. Ruscitto will be adding a book vending machine to her class. Students will be offered a gold coin when they are recognized for being kind and respectful to their teachers and peers. Students will use that gold coin to select a free book from the vending machine! 


South Park High School Counseling Suite Welcoming Environment: All high school students spend time in the counseling office suite when they meet with their counselor and discuss courses, future plans or emotional needs. Counselors Bethany Chicora-Lewis and Natalie Liptak envisioned a much more welcoming space for the students – an environment where students can collaborate and feel welcomed, relaxed, and encouraged. Thanks to a SPark grant, the counseling suite will have a new look, with new furniture and features, creating a mentally healthy area.


South Park High School Bots IQ Team: The South Park Education Foundation is excited to support the South Park High School Bots IQ team. As part of the Bots IQ team, students compete and test a battle-ready robot against 70 other area schools. As they build their robot, students gain technical skills needed to create a real product, apply hands-on fabrication techniques, and build and assemble components. The lessons they learn will certainly position them for success in future education and careers. Dave Bailey, high school teacher, submitted the SPark Grant application and requested the funding so his students could focus their limited time on the design process instead of fundraising for the needed materials. The South Park Education Foundation can’t wait to see what these high school students create!


South Park High School History Pear Deck Subscription: High school history teacher Jeff Boles won’t be giving typical history lectures thanks to a grant from the South Park Education Foundation. Instead, his students will be engaged, excited and focused on the material using the learning tool, Pear Deck. With Pear Deck, Mr. Boles will teach lessons with interactive questions and collaboration, formative assessments and audio recordings of historical events. Pear Deck will certainly inspire the curiosity of high school learners!


Since 2019, the South Park Education Foundation has awarded more than $12,000 in educator grants and $14,000 in student scholarships. The Foundation will open class of 2022 scholarship applications in mid-April.


The South Park Education Foundation raises the funds for SPark Grants and student scholarships through fundraising events and support from donors and sponsors. The Foundation’s derby-themed Casino Night will be held at South Hills Country Club on Saturday, April 30. The third annual Golf Outing and Dinner will be held on Monday, July 25 at South Hills Country Club. For more information about the South Park Education Foundation or to purchase event tickets, call (412) 655-3111, extension 1002.

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