In this season where giving is so important and enriches our lives, the Rotary Clubs of Petaluma Valley and Petaluma Sunrise have brightened the winter season and holidays for 85 teachers in 23 Petaluma Public Schools, and hundreds of students.
The Rotary Clubs have just completed the 9th annual “Lend a Hand to Education” project which donates mini-grant funds to Petaluma teachers for unmet needs in their classrooms.
The Clubs received 85 grants requests and only had funds to award approximately 72 of those requests. After a review by a dedicated and diligent committee, it was determined that each request submitted met the goals of the program, and the Clubs set about raising additional funds. The Clubs were able to raise the requested funds, and fulfilled each and every grant application, for a total of $16,181.81 for 85 grants being distributed to 23 Petaluma schools. Since 2004, the Rotary Clubs in Petaluma have awarded nearly $107,000 in grants to teachers, grades K-12. Funding sources are Rotary clubs and members, as well as local businesses and individuals who share Rotary’s passion to support youth and education in our community.
This year, the largest number of grant requests were for science, technology, math, field trips, reading, and history. Criteria for funding focused on innovative learning programs that engage all students in the classroom or field trips linked to curriculum.
Grants were awarded to teachers at Valley Vista and Union Schools, among many other local schools. I had the honor of delivering the grants to the teachers at these schools. There are only two teachers at Union School which serves eleven students from transitional kindergarten through sixth grade. Both Martinique Perry, who teaches transitional kindergarten through second grade and Teacher and Principal Cynthia Haydon who teachers third through sixth grade, applied for grants, which were awarded. The grant to Ms. Perry will provide her with the resources to create multimedia art projects for her students including stained glass and string art. The student demonstrated their knowledge of artists when they were shown an example of the string art they could create with the new materials and said that it looked like Van Gough’s art. The grant to Ms. Haydon will provide her with software to teach reading and writing on the interactive whiteboard that the school already owns. The students were all gathered for the grant presentation, and expressed their thanks many times. They also did an honorary ringing of the historic school bell – Union School was founded in 1865 and has been operating continuously ever since.
The grant to Valley Vista School was awarded to Teacher Sharon Wiseman, who teachers Special Education to 36 students. When she arrived at the school two years ago there was a classroom but no special education resources. She applied for a Lend a Hand to Education grant last year which was awarded and provided her with funds to purchase math games. This year’s grant provided her with pencil gripes, seat disks, and lap blankets. The pencil grips teach proper holding of a pencil for writing, the seat disks allow students to release excess energy while wiggling quietly in place, and the lap blankets provide weight on a student’s lap which allows them to sit in place longer and focus.
In this time of budget cuts to all public programs, including schools, Rotary’s Lend a Hand to Education program demonstrates that a community working together can make a difference in children’s education.
If you are interested in making a donation for next year’s grant program, please contact me and I will be happy to help you.