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QUEST awards $20,000 in grants to local teachers

Seven Washington County teachers will share nearly $20,000 in grant money for innovative projects and programs for the 2011-2012 school year.
Washington County Schools QUEST Foundation President Lee Harlan announced the recipients of this year’s grants at a reception held last week at the school system’s central office in Jonesborough.
There were over 60 applications for QUEST grants this year.
The winners and their projects include:
• Jill Leonard, a kindergarten teacher at South Central Elementary, received $3,868.81 to implement her proposed project, “Capturing Children’s Inquiry of How Things in the World Work.”
She will use basic materials such as sand, water and bubbles to allow children to learn how things work and they will video record their own experiences.
• Beth Cunningham, a fourth-grade teacher at Ridgeview Elementary, received $1,653.73 for her “On the Go Science Labs” project.
Cunningham plans to use a hands-on approach in science, a process she feels will help students increase their TCAP scores in that subject.
• Regina France, a third-grade teacher at Sulphur Springs, was awarded $3,540 to implement a “Microscopic Giants Expanded” initiative in the classroom — one that will utilize several new microscopes for up-close learning.
• Rachel Horn, who teaches Physical Sciences at Daniel Boone High School, will develop a “Robotic Team Project Competition to Stimulate Enthusiasm in STEM, with her award of $1,499.95.
Horn’s project will focus heavily on engineering and design.
• Brandi Crass and Ann Conner, who teach kindergarten at Jonesborough Elementary, will work together to use their $4,317.44 grant to implement a “Falling into Reading with Starfall” project.
Starfall is an interactive website developed to enhance reading skills.
• Deana Arwood, an eighth-grade teacher at Ridgeview School, was awarded $4,998 to purchase and use specialized Kindles in her classroom.
Her project is called “Increasing Reading In These Changing Times.”
Harlan said the additional classroom funding is helping teachers focus on technology-aided learning.
“The use of technology in kindergarten through high school is amazing, and in today’s world, technology is a great aid for teaching,” he said. “We feel like initiatives like this, which are not funded through the normal funding mechanisms, will really give Washington County students a chance to excel.”
QUEST — Quality Education Support for Tomorrow — was formed in 2010 with the purpose of obtaining funds from different community businesses and organizations to make up for government funding cuts that have a direct impact on the classroom.
The mission of the foundation is to solicit, collect, receive, accumulate, administer and distribute funds to further the pursuit of excellence in education for the students, faculty and administration of the Washington County system.
Since the formation of QUEST in 2010, the organization has awarded over $36,000 in grants to local teachers.