Donors sought to fund innovative education programs

WCPS Foundation will use money for 'minigrants' or stipends

WCPS Foundation will use money for 'minigrants' or stipends

November 08, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A nonprofit organization working with Washington County Public Schools is seeking donations to help fund innovative learning and teaching programs.

Terri L. Baker, development coordinator for Washington County Public Schools, said the Washington County Public Schools Foundation will use the donations to award teachers "minigrants," or stipends ranging from $250 to $1,000.

Washington County Public Schools doesn't pay any money toward the grants, Baker said. All of the funding is provided by teachers or members of the foundation.

"We take contributions and return them to the classroom," she said. "They're doing it because they believe in it and because they care ... Our biggest need right now is sponsorships."


Last year, the photography class at Washington County Technical High School used one of the grants to photograph 13 residents at Homewood Retirement Center in Williamsport after the school's cosmetology class gave them makeovers.

Kathy Valentine, vice president of the foundation, said Springfield Middle School currently is using a $650 grant to establish a robotics club.

She said the program has grown from 40 requests when it began locally in the fall of 2008 to 66 requests this year. Those 66 requests totaled $47,416.20, she said, but just $5,000 will be awarded.

Foundation organizers decided to start a fundraising campaign to keep up with the increasing number of grant requests, said Tara L. Horst, foundation president.

"We're hoping these minigrants can turn into pilot programs that turn into curriculum," Horst said.

She said the innovative learning and teaching techniques can capture the interests of students who might struggle otherwise.

John Jones, whose photography class at Washington County Technical High School visited Homewood Retirement Center last year, said the program gave 10 of his students a chance to do something outside the classroom.

"It was an amazing experience to watch the bonding," he said. "The kids really had a great time."

Jones said one of the students was assigned to write a book to document the project.

The majority of the $900 grant was used to pay the cost of transportation, prints and frames, Jones said.

Make a difference

Those wishing to make donations to the Washington County Public Schools Foundation may call Terri Baker at 301-766-2974. For more information, go to

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