Gretna Public Schools foundation grows to give back

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:00 am

Students may be on summer break from schools, but that doesn't mean schools are on a break from students.

The Gretna Public Schools Foundation has recently approved 14 grants, being the first year to approve so many.

“We've never done anything like this,” said Sarah Roarty, administrative assistant to the superintendent for board support and foundation support.

Roarty said the 14 grants will benefit each school building as well as a fair variety of departments, giving back approximately $37,000 to the classrooms.

The foundation began giving out grants last year, though Roarty said the previous grants were basic classroom items within the elementary schools, and the largest going to the outdoor weather center at Gretna High School. This year's grants, however, cover a much wider scope.

“It's been across the board with everything,” Roarty said.

For instance, she said the foundation approved a grant for iPad tablets for the use in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Additionally, other technologies such as robotics have been approved for both the high school as well as Gretna and Whitetail Creek elementary schools.

The two elementary schools will receive a quadcopter, a small, programmable drone that is flown by four rotors.

“The kids will actually have to come up with the program to make them fly,” Roarty said. “A lot of classrooms are getting into this technology.”

However, she said grants were approved for other departments such as special education and arts.

“It's really been a little bit of everything,” she said.

These grants are not given out too freely, however, as some stipulations have to be met.

For instance, Roarty said, grants will be given to programs that can continue on and benefit a long line of students, not just a one time group.

The largest of the grants also went towards teachers through a writer's workshop.

This workshop course took 20 teachers through a semester of improving their writing ability and having to share it amongst peers, giving them a student prospective, Roarty said.

“The teachers actually had to write small pieces themselves,” she said.

These skills and insight will then be taken back into the classroom and applied with students.

Roarty said the school district is hoping for another 20 teachers to take the course, though she said the course is already popular.

“I have a feeling spots will go fast,” she said.

The foundation has also expanded its scholarships, as in the past it gave one four-year scholarship and two two-year scholarships.

“This year we gave two two-year scholarships and eight four-year scholarships,” Roarty said.

She said the additional money to give out more scholarships, as well as the grants, has come from growth within the Kids Connection before and after school program.

“It was time to start giving back,” she said.

Kids Connection, which is also open throughout the summer months, started in 2009, she said, and has grown to allow the foundation to give more.

“When I first started, we gave scholarships — and that's all we did,” Roarty said. “The last two years have been really exciting; it's fun to give kids money.”

While a lot of the funds for the foundation come in from Kids Connection, Roarty said many families still donate and are still able to donate. Many of these donations eventually become memorial scholarships, she said.

For those interested in making a donation or wanting further information on the foundation, she said to contact her at the district administrative office at 402-332-3265

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