Beaumont Public Schools Foundation gives out grants at BISD campuses

Madison Hathaway, Kayleigh Threlkhold, Taylor Dru Lindsey and Lacee Hadnot (not

Several teachers and students in the Beaumont Independent School District received welcome but unexpected visits from members of the Beaumont Public Schools Foundation (BPSF) on April 28.

Twice a year, BPSF surprises teachers and students by caravanning around town and visiting Beaumont schools to present awards to winners who applied for grants to bring innovation into classrooms. Teachers and students write grants and submit the applications to the BPSF, often requesting reading materials, equipment for special creative projects, seeds and fertilizer for plants, and much more. Since its establishment in 1993, BPSF has distributed grants totaling $261,121 to 374 awardees at Beaumont ISD.

The BPSF also administers two memorial scholarships, the Joan Nathan Gross Graphic Arts Scholarship, and the John Hodges Memorial Scholarship. Over the years, the nonprofit organization has given 96 scholarships amounting to $63,000.

In addition, the organization has come to the community’s aid during times of need. In the fall of 2005, BPSF extended its support of Beaumont ISD by donating $4,000 to purchase clothing and school supplies for students affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

For Spring 2017, members of the foundation visited nine Beaumont ISD campuses and distributed nearly $12,000 in grants.

Among the many winners this spring, four middle-school girls received a grant to benefit students interested in robotics and engineering. Madison Hathaway, Kayleigh Threlkhold, Taylor Dru Lindsey and Lacee Hadnot won a grant that provided Marshall Middle School’s Robotics Club and students with new LEGO robot-building kits, the EV3 Mindstorm Education Base kits. The cost of the project was $1,169.85.

In their grant application, which they completed themselves with the help of teacher Sally Hunt, the girls expressed interest in learning more about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and wanted to encourage other girls to be interested, as well. The LEGO system allows students to work together to build a robot. The group of young programmers said they want to learn about engineering, technology and teamwork. Eventually, they hope to compete in regional and state competitions.

“Ms. Hunt told us about a grant we could get, so we applied,” Kayleigh explained. “This is very cool. I’m really excited.”

Curtis Elementary School teacher Paige Grisanti “hatched” a plan to apply for grant funds that will allow the school to purchase fertilized eggs and monitoring equipment for second-grade students so the group can watch the eggs’ progress and raise baby chicks from birth. For 21 days, students will become surrogate parents for the eggs and share their experiences with the entire campus. Further, they will use scientific methods like forming a hypothesis, observation and predicting the outcome.

The school already has some eggs ready to be hatched, and the students are looking forward to adding more eggs to their baskets, said teacher Ellen Miller, who accepted the award.

Numerous other Beaumont ISD received awards at various campuses throughout the city. More awards will be available next school year. BPSF encourages students and staff at BISD to apply for grants for the 2017 fall caravan after school starts.

Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.