Amidst much challenging news over the last few weeks, there is a bright story to share about an innovative group of projects being undertaken by teachers at Brunswick’s public schools. The Brunswick Community Education Foundation (BCEF), an independent non-profit organization committed to supporting preK-12 students and teachers in Brunswick, recently announced the recipients of its 2020 grants.
This is the sixth year that BCEF has supported education in the Brunswick schools. Over these six years, more than $200,000 has been awarded across all six schools in the district. The projects have ranged from purchasing adaptive musical instruments to building outdoor classroom spaces or bringing authors or performers to the schools. The purpose of the grants is to enrich activities that support the Brunswick School Department’s mission. “Teachers are given the opportunity through the BCEF grants to move beyond their school budgets to teach and reach children in creative ways,” says BCEF Board Member and retired Brunswick teacher, Cheryl Crockett.
In a typical year, grant recipients gather at the Brunswick Junior High School library to celebrate their projects receiving funding and to connect with BCEF board members and each other. Given this year’s health concerns, however, celebratory notes were sent out in lieu of an in-person gathering. Nevertheless, there is great enthusiasm for a suite of projects that teachers have created to enhance their students’ learning.
The teachers spend a great deal of time developing their ideas and completing the grant application. It’s certainly a challenge for busy teachers, but the BCEF board took a step this year to help simplify the process by shifting to a new online platform. It makes reviewing the grants much easier as well, as all the materials are in a shared space online. A grant review committee composed of education professionals not affiliated with the Brunswick schools and separate from the board goes through each of the applications. They decide which ones best align with BCEF’s mission and support the Brunswick School District’s curriculum goals.
This year’s grants include great projects in all of the district’s schools. Students at the REAL School will be working on a horticulture project including building a greenhouse, those at Region 10 Technical High School will be practicing how to monitor blood pressure with new simulators, and those at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School will benefit from new resources to study the Wabanaki peoples, just to name a few. Two grants will also benefit the new Kate Furbish Elementary School. One purchases rain pants for students to be able to explore outside in foul weather. The other one will fund sand play equipment for part of the new outdoor play area.
Twenty grants received funding this year, totaling over $36,000. The funding comes straight from the individuals, families and businesses that help provide the budget to award these grants. The support from local businesses has helped to spread the word about BCEF’s work as well, such as the recent Community Matters More campaign by Bangor Savings Bank. They graciously invited BCEF to be included in the ballot during the February voting period. The results are still being tallied, but BCEF thanks everyone who voted for them. In addition, Hannaford will be featuring BCEF during the month of April in their Hannaford Helps Reusable Bag Program. For every bag purchased at the Brunswick Hannaford in April, $1 will be donated to BCEF.
It is a time to be grateful for the many positive things in our community, like the amazing work of our educators and those that support them. BCEF sends a big thank you to all of those that have helped make these projects happen.
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