Friday, May 17, 2024

The City Schools Foundation awards more than $100,000 in grants to Murfreesboro schools


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Featured Photo from Bailey Brantingham

Story by Bailey Brantingham

The phrase “it takes a village” adopts a new meaning in Murfreesboro as educators and the local City Schools Foundation come together to provide additional funding to further enrich curriculum in Murfreesboro city schools. From sensory rooms to student coding and robotics materials, The City Schools Foundation is dead set on turning community funds into new academic purpose for schools across the city.

As government funding for schools is often limited to basic classroom needs, The City Schools Foundation aims to supplement where public funding is lacking, helping educators reach new heights in creative curricula.

“It’s about where teachers want to be innovative and do something that isn’t tax-funded,” said Lisa Trail, Foundation director of communication and strategic initiative. “They have an idea, and they go, ‘Okay, could I get money to try this?’”

Consisting of a board of local business-leaders and community volunteers, the foundation hosts two annual fundraisers, the Excellence in Education event and the new Serve it Up tennis tournament. With help from sponsors and other foundations, The City Schools Foundation was able to distribute over $100,000 in grants this school year.

As for the grants themselves, the Foundation’s Grant Committee scores anonymous submissions from around the city and, after careful review, decides which ones will be funded. Past grants have ranged from $150 to nearly $10,000.

One grant recipient, Kathie Brown, a fourth grade math teacher at Reeves-Rogers Elementary, received a grant of $9,988 during the 2022-23 school year. With the continuous modernization of the world, Brown emphasized the importance of adapting the skills and curriculum taught to students preparing to enter it. Skills like computer coding are becoming increasingly desirable in the job market, but schools have yet to fund the nurturing of these skills or adapt them into the current curriculum.

“I wanted to see more hands-on coding activities. You know, you have the ‘Hour of Code’ where they want students coding one hour out of their entire year of school, but I just felt like that wasn’t enough,” Brown said.

With the grant money, Brown was able to buy Lego Learning System sets for her school. The sets allow students to create and build with colorful Lego figures, while also learning basic coding language.

“It’s a great opportunity for teachers to get a little money to work on or add something to their class that they feel like would be beneficial to the students. It’s a great resource,” Brown said. 

With grant requests for everything from extravagant feats, like new instruments or iPads, to the simplest of needs, like new whiteboards and dry erase markers, it’s clear that public education is currently funding the bare minimum for local schools. However, teachers and students agree that Murfreesboro is lucky to have The City Schools Foundation to supplement these shortfalls and fund the academic dreams of the next generation.

Bailey Brantingham is a contributing writer for MTSU Sidelines.

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