Pearland foundation to award grants to enrich teaching

Pearland Independent School District’s new education foundation expects to award its first set of grants by the end of this school year.

“We’re excited about being able to provide grants to teachers so they can get specialized programs in place,” said Jeff Barry, president of the 28-member foundation board.

A number of area school districts have established education foundations to meet financial needs that state and federal funding don’t cover.

Pearland ISD launched its nonprofit foundation in response to district growth and the limited resources available to accommodate it.

“Pearland ISD has more than 20,000 students,” Barry said. “There are a lot wants and needs out there, and the district can’t meet all of them.

“We wanted to give the community an opportunity to partner with us to enrich teaching and inspire learning.”

The Pearland ISD Education Foundation’s grants could cover such needs as teacher training, innovative programs, recognition events, scholarships and grants.

The process of establishing a foundation began last summer when Pearland ISD’s board of trustees organized a steering committee to draft foundation bylaws, establish goals, set funding priorities and determine the grant application process.

The committee also nominated community members to serve on the foundation’s board and asked Barry, former chairman of the North Brazoria County Education Alliance, to be the foundation’s board president. The alliance provides entry-level worker training programs.

Now a board is in place, and it has launched a Founders’ Campaign, which will seek initial support for the foundation. All donors who give $1,000 or more will be recognized as founding donors for the life of the foundation.

Going forward, the foundation will raise funds through donations from individuals, the community and corporations – as well as through fundraising activities.

Barry said he sees great potential for the foundation’s impact

“I’ve heard teachers are spending their own money for supplies and projects. There’s no reason they should be doing that. We’re here to let teachers know we’re here to support them. The foundation is long overdue in Pearland.”

If teachers do receive the resources to develop innovative lessons, projects that take a creative approach to presenting curriculum, there’s no telling what kind of impact those experiences will have on students, Barry said.

“It’s easy to get caught in the mundane day-to-day grind. We need something to excite the teachers and to change the day-to-day for the students.

“It’s important to mix it up a little bit; not everybody learns the same way. We want to make sure teachers have every opportunity to reach these kids.”

This month, the foundation is presenting the grant application process to district principals, who will, in turn, train their teachers in the process. The foundation will accept teacher grant applications in April. After the grant application committee and the board reviews the applications and decides which projects to support, the board will announce the recipients.

The foundation hasn’t worked out the details of how it will announce the grant recipients, but Barry would like foundation board members to visit teachers in their classrooms to surprise them with the good news during the last few weeks of the school year.

“I think we need to make a big deal out of it,” he said. “I’m not sure who will be more excited, them or us as the board.

“I think it’s going to be wonderful for the kids, and hopefully the teachers will find value in it.”

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