The newly awarded TEACH Grants will be music to the ears of Morrow County students. The Pillar Credit Union Morrow County Teachers Fund at Marion Community Foundation established this year is supporting the Teaching, Education And Classroom Support (TEACH) Grants in Morrow County in 2022. Three of the inaugural awards in this grants program are expanding music education in local schools – a Melodica unit for Cardington-Lincoln Middle School, a steel drum ensemble for Northmor Junior/Senior High School, and xylophones for Highland Elementary, as well as iPads for Mt. Gilead’s Park Elementary School.
Marion Community Foundation’s Morrow County TEACH Grants Program accepted applications in February and March from classroom teachers, both public and private, from all Morrow County schools, kindergarten through high school. The awards total $1,975 and were divided nearly evenly among the four schools. With the awards, Marion Community Foundation seeks to support innovative and motivational classroom programs and activities that are outside of the regular school budget.
Teacher Joshua Neff of Cardington-Lincoln Middle School, submitted an application to increase musical study and performance with a melodica, a small keyboard instrument. With it, he will teach keyboarding skills, harmony, melody, and performance to all students in the school’s grades 5-8 general music classes.
“Every student in the middle school takes general music throughout the year and melodica lessons will help to strengthen both the middle and high school music programs,” said Neff. “I work in collaboration with the high school band director, art, and gym teachers. The use of melodicas will strengthen all of our special class rotation by giving students more opportunities to create and explore through music.”
Neff tracks students’ musical progress through a series of levels and activities. The melodica activities, he noted, will be beneficial for improving students’ performance skills both individually and as a group.
A TEACH Grant will help Northmor’s Christopher Kaschube achieve a dream for his students.
“It has always been a dream of mine to start a steel drum ensemble here at Northmor Schools,” he said. “Steel drums are native to the Caribbean, have a unique sound, and are enjoyable to listen, to learn, and perform. To my knowledge, there are no schools in our area that offer steel drums for their students to learn.”
This unique offering will be available to junior and high school students at Northmor. The project is also supported by the Northmor Music Boosters, who helped Kaschube order a high quality, custom set of steel drum instruments which arrived in the Spring.
“When we get started with this new ensemble, everyone will be a rookie at learning to play these new instruments, including myself,” said Kaschube. He plans to start separate steel drum ensembles for junior high and high school students. It is his goal to have the new ensembles perform at events at Northmor, incorporating them into a marching band halftime show, and perform at community events.
The xylophones for Highland Elementary School were, upon the arrival of music teacher Kayla McMurry, “scattered everywhere and some even broken.” Wishing to restore this important teaching instrument, McMurray applied for the grant to purchase a new xylophone.
McMurray will use the new instrument for all of the elementary grade levels. “The students will be able to play a variety of music, work together to come up with songs to play for the class, learn about melody and harmony, and have the opportunity to learn another instrument,” she said.
Mt. Gilead Park Elementary will use their grant to purchase iPads for their students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The technology was requested by Gretchen Jolliff for use in her 2nd grade classroom for her students in need of specialized learning.
“My co-teachers and I have multiple abilities in our classroom,” she said. “I have quite a few students that are identified with different disabilities and on IEPs. I will be using iPads in my classroom to differentiate instruction for these students, further their instruction, and meet their IEP goals.”
“As a former teacher myself,” said Marion Community Foundation president and CEO Dean Jacob,” I know the value of arts education in developing well-rounded students. Marion Community Foundation is pleased to support the arts and education in the communities we serve, including in the schools.”
A three-person committee of community leaders served as the selection committee and made recommendations for the 2022 Morrow County TEACH Grant awards. It was promoted to schools in the Morrow County area – Cardington, Highland, Mt. Gilead and Northmor.
The Foundation has offered TEACH grants in Marion for three years, thanks to support from Pillar Credit Union and other local donors. Additional donors are welcomed and encouraged for the Morrow County program in order to expand it, stated Jacob.
“Pillar Credit Union is vested in the communities they serve,” said Jacob. “They spearheaded the TEACH Grants Program in Marion, as well as Morrow County.”
The goal of the TEACH Grants Program is to support local teachers’ ideas to make area classrooms interesting, stimulating, and impactful for students. The TEACH Grants Program provides funding to teachers, or small teams of classroom teachers, to foster and develop programs, projects, events, or lessons for kindergarten through 12th grade through a competitive application process held each February. Awards are selected in May for the following academic year.