Penn Manor Education Foundation is helping to make learning in a pandemic a little less challenging for teachers and students.
The nonprofit organization has awarded more than $53,000 in teacher Venture Grants this year, most of them designed to ease the transition from in-person to remote learning and help keep students and staff safe during the pandemic.
In addition, PMEF’s Strong & Healthy Families program has awarded more than $19,000 in grants to support families in need during this challenging school year.
The teacher grants have funded more than 800 electronic pen tablets that enable students to complete math and science equations and respond to prompts by drawing answers that are shared with the class via student laptops.
Grants also have funded electrical wiring kits, hand tools and molecule kits that students can use from home during agricultural education, applied engineering and science classes.
Other grants have funded personal protective equipment for musical instruments and recreational games that enable physical education classes to be held while adhering to social distancing requirements.
Kim Frey, a high school math teacher who received a $7,000 grant to fund 175 pen tablets, said the devices have helped teachers and students stay connected, regardless of whether they’re learning in person or from home.
“The tablets allow students to show handwritten math work directly on a digital, shared document,” she said. “This increases communication opportunities between teachers and students and enables students to collaborate and discuss math by sharing their work live.”
In addition to these pandemic-related grants, funding has been used for elementary classroom reading materials, including digital versions for online learning; cardio drumming sets; whiteboards for all kindergarten classes; electronic balances and hotplates for high school science classes; and fees for students to attend virtual Model UN conferences.
Under the Strong & Healthy Families program, PMEF has provided $19,545 in grants to support students and families in need.
A $5,500 grant is paying for supplies and fees for students enrolled in Lancaster County Career & Technology Center programs.
Grants totaling $7,500 are paying fees for dual enrollment programs and advanced placement testing for students with economic challenges. A $1,500 grant is providing books to be distributed to kindergarten students during food giveaways in the Penn Manor community.
The Education Foundation revised its Venture Grant process this year to encourage collaboration among staff and to better support teachers and students during virtual learning.
“These grants fostered student motivation and expanded opportunities to communicate between students and teachers,” said Jan Mindish, the Foundation’s executive director.
“PMEF also was able to support our students and families in need through our Strong & Healthy grants thanks to terrific support from staff, retirees, community members and businesses.”