Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary School has become a unique center for learning. The school, like many in the area, is confronted by challenges, but that doesn’t stop the teachers, staff and administrators from doing whatever it takes to make sure the students have what they need to succeed and prosper.
“Some of the challenges are with the costs of materials and tools we need in order to give our students the best education,” said Principal Kim Robertson. “As many know, we have had severe budget cuts in our schools in regards to materials and supplies. We must constantly discover new avenues to gain funding to help our children learn to the best of their ability and to ascend to the highest level of learning.”
Robertson and three members of her staff, Renee Bain, Beverly Hood and Marie Lowe, found one way to overcome some of those challenges by applying for and receiving grants for a greenhouse and a kiln.
Finding these funds was a difficult process, as the grant writing process involves a great deal of time and information about the way a certain grant should be written. Often denials of grants come without any explanation or advice for future efforts. In the case of the grant request for the kiln, there were very specific regulations that had to be met for installation. The end result was worth the effort.
Members of the staff explained that the excitement of receiving and installing the kiln and the greenhouse captured the children’s attention, which enabled them to move directly into an exhilarating learning experience. They anticipate a big payoff when the students begin learning procedures for planting and growing in a real greenhouse environment. The excitement the children show when they create their first pottery piece and fire it in the kiln makes the extra effort worth it to the ladies.
The greenhouse is, by-and-large, already integrated into the school’s activities.
“We have a school community garden in connection with our greenhouse. Between the community garden and the greenhouse we already have potatoes, onions, cabbages, a variety of carrots and radishes. We plan to add squash, more cabbage, broccoli, bush beans and sunflower seeds,” according to Bain, Hood and Lowe.
The next step also includes a field trip to the Botanical Gardens for students to explore the concepts of rain barrels and recycling.
On May 8 at 1:30 p.m., the school will host a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the addition of these unique learning tools to the school and the community.
Robertson noted, “We will have a ribbon cutting and our distinguished guests will be entertained by the Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary Chorus, along with a performance of a Maypole dance. The guests will be gifted with a clay pot processed in our kiln, created and seeded by students. We will also name our greenhouse and will have refreshments to close out the ceremony.”
Many schools across the nation are facing the same budget cuts that affected Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary School. For those inclined to defy the circumstances and provide the highest quality education possible, the group of creative educators has some advice, Our advice for other schools is not to hesitate applying based on the monetary amount needed. Just apply for as many grants needed to help your children learn. Our children are our future and there should be no monetary cap for them. Have information ready such as the need, the costs and the necessary supplies. Be persistent if you do not succeed at first.