Grants support innovative learning

Espen Sutton traveled back in time last summer to the days of Michaelangelo and da Vinci.

The first grader participated in New Market Elementary School’s Renaissance-themed summer reading program, one of a list of school projects awarded a grant last year from the Montgomery County Educational Foundation.

“I thought it was fun to come to school in the

summer,” Sutton said. “I got to see my friends and check out books.”

Grant recipients showed off their projects Thursday during the foundation’s annual breakfast at Crawfordsville District Public Library. More than $25,700 was awarded to teachers from the three county school districts.

The group provides funds from the Montgomery County Community Foundation to support innovative programs in all grade levels.

“It’s always great to see the kids and the enthusiasm they have when it comes to the grants,” foundation member Brad Monts said.

The reading program received $3,000 to purchase books for the students.

During June, the children came to school where they could check out books from the library and rotate through activity stations. The last day was a Renaissance Fair. 

Students kept a reading log and earned prizes for finishing books. They were also encouraged to track their reading the rest of the summer.

The goal was to help students retain reading skills over the break. 

“So when they came back in the fall it was not starting from scratch and at a different grade level,” said Title I instructor Libby Nave, who ran the program with fifth grade teacher Danielle Coudret. Nave and Coudret worked alongside the parent-teacher organization. 

Coudret said the program gave students unable to visit the public library access to reading materials.

Among the North Montgomery projects recognized was a “Brick Economics” activity in Nicole Stigall’s fourth grade class at Pleasant Hill Elementary. The project received a $980 grant.

Children used Legos to build creations based on concepts such as goods and services. A student handed a bucket of the building blocks to Sommer Elementary principal Suzi Gephart, who raced against a time limit to make a


Projects supported in the Crawfordsville schools included Hose Elementary’s Breakfast Club, which received $300.

Students are served breakfast and given an opportunity to brush their teeth.

“Every morning we have a half-hour to make a difference in how each kid begins their day,” said special education teacher Brittany Reef. “They come to us silly, tired — and sometimes grumpy — but for that half-hour they get to feel safe and loved and cared for.”