Thirty-two Bainbridge Island educators received Classroom Innovation Grants this year from the Bainbridge Schools Foundation. The grants, which focus on bringing new ideas in teaching and learning to the classroom, provide everything from resource materials and supplies to innovative workstations and access to community experts. The awards will reach classrooms in every one of our public schools.
Seven of the awards will benefit more than one school in the district. For example, one award will bring new phonics instruction to struggling readers at every elementary school. Another provides new STEM materials that will be used by every K-4 student in the district. Reading materials that provide a fresh approach were popular this year as well as differentiated online programs that provide individual skills-building practice that can help students advance more quickly.
Lisa Timmins, chair of the BSF grants committee, has been involved with teacher grants the past three years and offered some perspective. “I would dub this the year of the reader,” she said. “BSF classroom innovation grants have always existed to support bold, new ideas and interesting pilot projects. This year we saw a strong focus on reading-skills building with creative twists. There were e-books and tech-based reading materials, reading tools that use the latest in phonics skills teaching, and books that promote self-awareness and community-building.”
BSF executive director Allyson Brown was impressed by the range of ideas presented in the applications. “Many of the grants will bring more social-emotional learning and skill building to our classrooms. There is funding here for sensory therapy kits, mindfulness practice at Sakai with Jen Breen from Bainbridge Yoga House, and books that teach curiosity, kindness, and optimism. Woodward eighth-graders are going to watch a beautifully produced local documentary and then have a follow-up discussion with the film’s producer and the tribal elder who was featured in the film.”
“I’m grateful to all of the educators who took the time to apply this year. We were able to fund a lot of resource materials that will spark passion and excitement for students. All of the awards, from in-classroom resources like books and tech to furniture that builds focus, are designed to enhance a student’s love of learning.”
Bainbridge Schools Foundation has been making Innovative Classroom Grant awards for over twenty years, since it was formed through the merger of BEST (Bainbridge Education Support Team) with the Bainbridge Schools Trust. Many of the projects BSF funded in those early years are still in existence today, like Sakai Broadcasting and the Sakai Salmon Project.
Historically the grants have been awarded in the fall, but the BSF board is currently looking at ways to make that timeline more workable for teachers and staff.
Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen was pleased by the number and variety of grants that were funded. “We’re very fortunate to have such creative, innovative teachers and staff in this district. Their commitment to sharing a love of learning with their students astounds me every day. This year’s projects are all focused on building students’ excitement about their work in the classroom, whether it’s through new technology, books with a fresh perspective, or tools to explore learning in a new way. I’m grateful to everyone who supports the Bainbridge Schools Foundation and our public schools.”