IPEI Awards First Connecting Classrooms Grants

March 25, 2015


                                                                       IPEI, the Ithaca Public Education Initiative, has awarded the first ever Connecting Classrooms Grants.  The ConneDSCN9060cting Classrooms Grants program is IPEI’s fourth and newest grants offering for teachers, staff and others with ideas for enhancing educational opportunities for Ithaca City School District (ICSD) students.



Five grants totaling $34,950 were announced by IPEI Grants Committee Chair Connie Patterson. IPEI is pleased and excited to support these fantastic proposals that find new ways to get students actively involved in learning and discovery.  Each project was created by a group of educators who have chosen to focus on scientific content while incorporating language arts, math, and technology. We are impressed with the teachers’ vision and commitment!” said Patterson, an IPEI board member and retired educator.
“What’s our Role? Building Community and Understanding our Local Environment: South Hill and Beverly J. Martin (BJM) Elementary Schools’ Ecosystem Investigation” will be led by South Hill’s Jennifer Wilkie and BJM’s Christine Barley who are collaborating with six other teachers and two community partners.
Brian Goodman of Enfield Elementary School is the lead teacher for “Citizen Scientists Action Project (C-SAP)” with ten teachers from four buildings and the Floating Classroom.
“The Neandertal in the Mirror” was initiated by Boynton Middle School’s Paula Berman and her three colleagues at Boynton.
Ithaca High School’s Carlan Gray is leading “Connecting All Students through Sustainable Agriculture” with three other Ithaca High educators.
“Caroline Wilderness CampusCurriculum Initiative” was proposed by Principal Mary Grover who will involve all Caroline Elementary School teachers.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled at this vote of confidence IPEI has placed in our vision,” exclaimed Wilkie. “The work we envision represents a powerful combination of rigorous learning, married with the relevance of students knowing their local environment, and valuing service to their local community. We are linking two schools who are not typically partnered which acknowledges that we can help build understanding and community in Ithaca, especially among young children.”
Barley added, “We are thrilled to be partnering with local scientific illustrators and community organizations Museum of the Earth, Cayuga Nature Center, and Trout in the Classroom.”                        
Connecting Classrooms Grants build on IPEI’s successful models for encouraging and supporting innovative teaching and deeper learning.  “Our intent is to be the catalyst for ICSD staff to seek and develop innovative collaborative partnerships between teachers within a school, across grade levels and/or between schools,” according to Patterson. “It’s about working together,” said IPEI Executive Director Christine Sanchirico. “This is really our guiding principle for the new grants.”
IPEI initiated Connecting Classrooms Grants using funds IPEI received from generous community members who donated to its Our Children * Our Schools * Our Future campaign.  One of the capital campaign’s three goals was to expand programs and grants. IPEI’s other grants programs are funded by the Annual Fund and Adult Spelling Bee.
IPEI has allocated significant resources for Connecting Classroom Grant recipients to plan, develop, and implement their visions that are aligned with the grant criteria.  Connecting Classrooms Grants criteria include: internal collaboration among ICSD staff; identification of overall promise or potential of project aligned with school and district goals; plan encourages active learning and student engagement; realistic, thoughtful outline of process; proposed budget aligns with project goals and intended outcomes; potential for academic impact; and process for effective evaluation of the project. 
IPEI expects that these large scale projects will be oriented toward student engagement that support learning consistent with school and district goals.  “IPEI has dedicated funding to encourage innovative thinking, further engage students, and increase the sense of community between groups of teachers and students,” explained Patterson. To be considered for funding, projects must have a plan for sustainability and a method for evaluation. Patterson added that applicants first consider whether the request fits into IPEI’s other grant categories (Teacher Grants, Red and Gold Grants, and Community Collaboration Grants).  The next review of project proposals will be for Fall 2015.

IPEI’s website (www.ipei.org) includes details on all its activities. For more information, contact  ConnectingClassroomsGrants@IPEI.org or call (607) 256-4734.


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