Westlake Educational Foundation awards over $21,000 in grants

Mary Essig presents grant check to Westlake City Schools staff: Thomas Major, Sandra Laurenty, Mary Essig, Brittany Hageman, Sue Peplin, Judy Buffington, Karen Kane, Shanti' Coaston

The Westlake Educational Foundation is excited to award five grants totaling over $21,000 to Westlake City Schools staff.  The grants awarded will foster creative learning opportunities and enrich student experiences.

To receive a grant, staff members are required to submit a grant application outlining the specifics of their project such as cost, number of students impacted, goals and timeline for implementation. The Foundation’s Board then reviews the applications and determines who will receive grant funds.

Prior to the start of the 2023-24 school year, Mary Essig, President of the Westlake Educational Foundation, spoke to the Westlake staff at convocation regarding the application process, fundraising initiatives, and how the Foundation was eager to receive new innovative project ideas as part of this year’s grant application process.

Two teams of teachers at Westlake Elementary School received grants. The first was awarded to Karen Kane and Judy Buffington who are Speech and Language Pathologists. Their project will increase communication access to allow for more communication opportunities for elementary students.

This project will fund two communication boards on both elementary school playgrounds to help foster inclusivity with verbal, non-verbal and English as a Second Language students. The communication boards will allow students to point to what they need or want to do while on the playground and will utilize the same communication tools used across the district.

Another grant was awarded to three Special Education Teachers (Cheryl Piktel, Sue Peplin, Brittany Hageman) and two Occupational Therapists (Emily Mellenthin, Tracy McGinty) at the elementary school. This grant will fund sensory tools and equipment within each of the elementary’s moderate to intensive needs classrooms to provide opportunities for students to help self-regulate, promote sensory integration, and access their sensory needs within the classroom.

Sandra Laurenty, Art Teacher at Dover Intermediate School, was awarded a grant to expand art programming by purchasing a potter’s wheel and associated tools.

Mrs. Laurenty shared, “Students currently utilize three hand-building techniques (the coil, pinch, and slab) to construct clay structures. With the addition of a potter's wheel, our young artisans will be exposed to new clay construction skill sets that they would not have otherwise been exposed to and be able to further develop their problem-solving skills as artists advance in their art education. We can't thank the Westlake Educational Foundation enough for this amazing opportunity to provide our students with new and innovative ways to explore and expand their creativity and imagination and expose students to innovative techniques that they will use throughout life.”

Two additional grants were awarded to two Westlake High School teachers. Shanti’ Coaston, a Computer Science Teacher, received a grant to purchase a 3D printer for her classroom. Ms. Coaston’s project will focus on providing students with opportunities to learn empathy and gain perspective on challenges that other students face, such as physical or learning disabilities. Through the experience students will go through the Design Process to create a product using the 3D printer to assist those living with disabilities.

Thomas Major, an English Teacher at the high school, will use his grant to have students create their own Dominion game expansions based on texts they have read in class while making cross-curricular connections.

The Westlake Educational Foundation’s mission is to enhance educational opportunities and experiences of Westlake City Schools' students in the endeavor to Educate for Excellence. The Foundation is grateful for their community partners as the Foundation relies on money raised from donations and fundraisers to award staff grants.

The Foundation’s primary fundraiser is their annual raffle of a car, handbag and other prizes.

Tickets for the raffle can be purchased online at www.wlake.org or at the Westlake Board of Education office, 24365 Hilliard Blvd. You can purchase one ticket for $25 or five tickets for $100. Donations can also be made directly to the Foundation at the website listed above. The drawing will take place on Feb. 13, at halftime of the Westlake High School boys home basketball game. Winners need not be present to win.

Bailey Morres & Mary Essig

President, Westlake Educational Foundation

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Volume 16, Issue 1, Posted 9:47 AM, 01.16.2024