While this is a time when some of us want to head inside as the weather is cooling, some local students are enjoying more opportunities to be outside thanks to grants from the Brunswick Community Education Foundation, a group that provides funding for teachers and school staff to do innovative projects with their students. You can also celebrate the outdoors, support the foundation and give thanks to your favorite teachers by buying a floral arrangement during the month of November from the Cooks Corner Hannaford as a part of their Bloomin’ 4 Good Program.

The foundation awarded more than two dozen grants over the 2020-21 school year to teachers totaling over $30,000. Many of these grants addressed the unexpected needs of students during the pandemic. While the foundation typically awards grants on a once-a-year cycle, they shifted to a more dynamic model last year in order to address the immediate needs of teachers and students. Three emergency grant opportunities were offered in May and December of 2020 and March of 2021. Some of the grants supported one-time offerings such as virtual author visits, but others are still continuing to provide unique opportunities for students to play and learn.

One of these longer-lasting innovative grants was put together by a teacher at the Kate Furbish Elementary School as a way to enhance the way students play in the new outdoor spaces. Seeing an opportunity with this new space and the increase in the time teachers were spending with their students outside, first and second grade multi-age teacher Jeanne Stinson submitted a grant to the foundation in the beginning of 2020. Her vision was to make the new sandbox a place for tactile exploration using a variety of heavy-duty tools like scoops and sifters. While she applied for the grant back at the start of 2020, Stinson wasn’t able to put the tools out until spring because of the unusual school year. Come spring, however, they were a welcome new addition and instantly popular with the students.

This year, the students have been able to start out the year with this durable set of tools for their sand play. When speaking about the impact of the foundation’s grant on her teaching and students, Stinson remarked that, “A community that supports teachers when they have that “what if I could . . . “ idea is one that will see better teaching with more engaged teachers and students over time.”

This is just one of the many grants that the foundation has provided over the last year. Now, they are already getting ready to accept applications for the next round of grants. Applications can be submitted beginning in mid-November and awards will be given in the spring of next year. All of the funding for these grants comes from individual and foundation support throughout the community.

You can support Brunswick Community Education Foundation through a direct donation (www.brunswick.cef.org) or, during the month of November, you can buy a bouquet of fresh flowers from the Hannaford at Cooks Corner (8 Gurnet Road). Look for the red circle sticker indicating that, for each $12 bouquet, $1 will go to the foundation to support innovative educational grants. Even better, you can buy a bouquet as a thank you to a teacher or school staff member. The foundation is grateful to the support from the community and to Hannaford for selecting them as their November Bloomin’ 4 Good recipient.

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