Rocky Fork Enterprise

Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation

Grants help teachers provide technology-rich education

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Kacey Limbach participates in Goshen Lane Elementary School's stream-study class. Grants from the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation are used for such programs.
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The Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation will consider funding requests next month to enhance educational programs throughout the district.

"We'd like the community to know that in November, we will have up for competitive bid about $70,000 in competitive educational grants," said Dale Foor, GJEF president. "Now over nine years, we've given over 350 grants in excess of $450,000. That allows us to significantly enrich educational programs and helps teachers do some creative and innovative things. We think it has had a significant impact on our programs."

At Goshen Lane Elementary School, fifth-grade teacher Michael Donaldson said the GJEF has enabled the school to put technology in the hands of students.

"These are pieces of technology that our students rarely get the opportunity to use," he said. "One of the most important ones is iPads. iPads or tablets have become technology of the future, and most of our students do not have the opportunities to utilize that type of technology at home. The iPads have many apps that are fabulous for math, science, social studies and language arts."

Donaldson also is the teacher who started taking fifth-graders to the overnight outdoor education experience 18 years ago.

"Each year, we take our fifth-graders for three days to Nature's Classroom, an outdoor education camp that matches our science and social studies curriculums," he said. "The students take classes in an outdoor setting. They get the opportunity to work in cooperative groups, eat family style and use their best table manners, and share their numerous talents with each other."

The GJEF has helped cover the cost of that experience for economically disadvantaged students.

"This is an opportunity that the majority of our students would never be able to experience, and the GJEF makes this possible," Donaldson said.

He also has received a GJEF grant, allowing his special-needs students to utilize a MacBook Air in production of videos for public-service announcements and events around the building.

"We use flip video cameras to film special events and students working around the building to create short productions that can be viewed on our Goshen News Network program that is aired every morning at 8 a.m.," Donaldson said.

Other GJEF grants have supported robotics, materials for the debate program, middle school microscopes, numerous after-school enrichment programs, such technology as SMART Boards, art murals at Creekside and art throughout the district.

Included in funds for this year's grants will be more than $7,000 from a new group called the Blue Gold Legacy Society, comprising retired G-J district employees.

"It includes retired teachers, secretaries and staff who made contributions to the education foundation to promote excellence," Foor said. "That's in the kitty this year."

After a committee reviews grant applications in November, Foor will announce the award recipients in December.

Foor said the annual Celebration of Excellence fundraiser would be held Feb. 23 at Villa Milano, and it has been renamed the "Gahanna Gala."

"It has been coined Gahanna Gala, and it will be an all-star evening," he said. "That means people can come dressed in their favorite team sport (attire) or as their favorite athlete. We think our guests are all-stars. Two-thirds of everything raised at the gala go toward grants, with the exception of fund-a-need. Our fund-a-need will again support technology in the district."

Foor said the GJEF also is partnering with the Rusty Bucket, a new Gahanna restaurant that will donate 20 percent of its first night's proceeds Thursday, Nov. 8, to the education foundation.

For more information about gala tickets and past GJEF grant recipients, go online to gjef.org.

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