In response to the current and ongoing educational demands of virtual classrooms, the Henderson County Education Foundation (HCEF) launched a mini-grants program (up to $500) for Henderson County Public School teachers to support innovative remote learning. With an enthusiastic response from HCPS teachers and the community, HCEF awarded 62 grants, totaling over $25,000, and impacting thousands of HCPS students.

Using funds from their grant request, eight teachers in the East Henderson High School English/ESL department were able to purchase the Kaizena Web App. “The English Department at East Henderson is so appreciative of the support of the Education Foundation and its community partners. This grant has allowed us to purchase an online extension so we can give personal, detailed feedback on writing assignments. This will help us serve the almost 500 students at East who are currently enrolled in English or English as a Second Language classes,” said Alice Abarca, MAT, NBCT, ESL Teacher at East Henderson High School.

The many useful and creative grant requests included technology enhancements for better online communications including go-pros and cameras, educational software, digital subscriptions, virtual field trips and interactive manipulatives for explaining difficult concepts.

Ms. Sharon Searcy, STEM teacher at Edneyville Elementary, was able to purchase additional electronics exploration kits with her grant money. While the Snap Circuits kits are a hands-on learning tool, when the students return to the classroom, stringent cleaning rules will require all hands-on items to be thoroughly cleaned in between students handling them. Additional kits will allow more children the chance to have a beneficial learning experience.  “We are a Title 1 school with over 75 percent coming from poverty and ESL homes,” says Searcy. “This hands-on tool enables us to provide crucial experiences for students who may have limited background knowledge. Students make deep connections to the content and vocabulary they are learning. These kits also strongly benefit gifted students who are able to use these experiences to spark creativity and problem solve in new or different ways.

HCEF is grateful to the individual donors and businesses in the community who responded to the needs of our teachers and students by making financial donations to the mini-grants program. In addition to individual donor contributions, the following sponsors supported the initiative: Super Spring Sponsor ($3,000+): Champion Comfort Experts, Hendersonville Rotary Club; Spring Sponsors ($1,000): Blue Ridge Orthodontics, Champion Credit Union, Chick-fil-A, Eagle Self Storage, First Congregational Church, Hendersonville Community Co-op, Triangle Stop Stores, and the Lee Waters Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation of Henderson County.