Buerkle students receive grant

Grant gives Buerkle students opportunity to solve community problems
Posted on 04/25/2019
buerkle-grant

Next year, all students at Margaret Buerkle Middle School will benefit from a $60,931 grant from the Innovative Technology Education Fund. Buerkle teachers applied for and received this major grant to support their #HandNHand project.

#HandNHand is a school-wide, year-long service learning opportunity for the Buerkle students. Beginning at the start of the 2019-2020 school year, students will participate in team-building activities to develop a growth mindset, grow empathy, encourage compassion and foster teamwork. Throughout the year, students will use these skills to connect with their school and their community by researching and teaming up with a local organization they are interested in. Students will take a field trip to the organization to learn about that organization’s work through first-hand experience. Once students return to Buerkle, they will work together to determine any needs the organization may have. Students will follow the design-thinking process to generate solutions to these problems while engaging with their community and classmates. At the end of the school year, students will host a Buerkle Expo to showcase their accomplishments to the community organizations they worked with, their parents and community members.

Cathy Schultz, computer literacy teacher at Buerkle, hopes the program will teach empathy and creative thinking. "Our entire staff is so excited about this opportunity,” Schultz said. “Research shows that the best way to teach problem solving is to practice in authentic settings. This experience does that. It allows students and staff to work with the community and create solutions to real problems that they are passionate about.”

The project aligns with Mehlville School District’s Portrait of a Graduate, which outlines the traits all students should graduate with, Schultz said. Portrait of a Graduate traits include creative and critical thinking, self-aware, persistent, communicator and ethical and global.

The grant will pay for professional development for teachers, and transportation and technology expenses related to #HandNHand. Specifically, the grant will allow Buerkle to purchase a 3-D printer, cameras and microphones for teleconferencing with community organizations, and supplies for brainstorming stations in common areas of the school. The grant also pays for a plastic reclamation machine, which recycles plastic waste into filament for the 3-D printer.

The Buerkle Middle School teachers who created #HandNHand and applied for the grant include Ericka Gulden, Cathy Schultz, Cheryl Tentschert, Susan Weedman, Trish Wells and Joan Wright.

Buerkle teachers are currently accepting designs for a #HandNHand T-shirt for students to wear next year. If you're interested in submitting a shirt design, send a back and white design to Cathy Schultz (schultzc@msdr9.org) by May 10. Buerkle students will vote for their favorite design, and the winning designer will receive a prize.

In 2017, teachers at Forder Elementary received a $50,000 Innovative Technology Education Fund grant to purchase Chrome Book carts, document cameras and other instructional technology, and to visit the Challenger Learning Center.

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