Four Bartholomew County schools received funding this year for projects that promote instruction and learning because of new grants offered by a retired teachers organization.

The Bartholomew County Retired Teachers Association (BARTA), founded in 1966, lends support to local schools and promotes the welfare and fellowship of retired educators.

Traditionally it has helped fund projects through donations. This year the association added BARTA member-funded grants.

Mt. Healthy, Smith and Southside elementary schools, and Columbus Signature Academy —New Tech High School received grants for projects this school year.

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“At one of our executive board meetings last year, an officer in BARTA suggested the grants as a way to help local teachers fund classroom projects while also creating a liaison between BARTA and today’s teachers,” said Janet Smith, BARTA treasurer. “We also see it as a way to give back to a profession we strongly support because of our own past involvement.”

BARTA invited teachers and administrators for kindergarten through Grade 12 to apply for the grants but stipulated that requests could not exceed $500 as total funding for this year’s grants was about $1,500.

Grant requests were for items such as classroom materials, tools for class instruction, field trips, guest speakers or other similar projects.

Smith Elementary used its grant to buy Lego kits to give first-graders an opportunity to be mini engineers. They used the popular toy to explore STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and hone writing skills.

Students built small-scale monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower and pyramids, and then located them on a map. They also built and designed other small structures such as a simple car, house or robot, then wrote how-to books on how to create their design, teacher Lisa Haines said.

Mt. Healthy purchased software that aids in the assessment of kindergarten students. The data and reports from Educational Software for Guiding Instruction (ESGI) help teachers to target and meet individual student needs, kindergarten teacher Kristen Hollenbaugh said.

“We can send home reports for the parents to see exactly what their child needs to work on or has mastered,” said Hollenbaugh. “The students like it as well because they like to see their growth after each assessment.”

CSA — New Tech used its grant to purchase needed music equipment — specifically microphones, stands and cords, science facilitator Andrew Larson said. The equipment has been used for school functions like the annual talent show, spirit competitions and in after-school clubs, he added.

“The equipment will have a long-standing impact, mainly in our kids’ development of their communication and performance skills,” Larson said.

Southside Elementary used its grant to send fourth-grade teacher Laura Wolf to the Smekens Education Solutions conference to learn informative and argumentative writing skills, and bring home new teaching strategies to the school corporation, according to Wolf’s grant application.

Both Larson and Hollenbaugh said the grant was one they hope their schools win again. They both intend to apply for the grant when it comes available this fall.

Future BARTA grants

The Bartholomew County Retired Teachers Association (BARTA) member-funded grants will be available on an annual basis. The next application period will begin late this fall and remain open for several weeks.
Teachers should keep an eye on their emails this fall, as BARTA member Janice Montgomery said she will reach out to school principals with the application information this fall to be forwarded around the school.
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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5633.