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Funding Teacher Ideas Benefits Student More Than Ever

The Hanover Schools Education Foundation (HSEF) has funded the aspirations of students and teachers alike for the past two years.  The HSEF was formed in 2018 to provide teacher grants to be used to implement new ideas and/or projects within classrooms and to create scholarship funds for Hanover students who are pursuing college or career opportunities.  Parents, community members, business leaders, Hanover teachers and administrators make up the Advisory Board of the foundation.   

Recently the Teacher Grant Committee made recommendations to the full Advisory Board for approval of seven grants to teachers.  The grants awarded represented an increase over the 2019 awards.  As Secretary of the HSEF, member of the Grant Committee and Principal of Jane Ball Elementary School, Ryan Eckart explained how the grants benefit his students and the greater school community.  “The classroom grants provide teachers with additional funding and helps promote creativity and community in our district’s classrooms.  We often have teachers with great ideas, but they are extremely limited in funding, and typically have to pay out of pocket to fund their creative ideas.  The HSEF grants encourage teachers to provide opportunities for students that may not otherwise happen due to lack of funding.  It is fun to see kids excited about a new opportunity that promotes inquiry and creativity.”

Seven grants were requested in 2020 and seven grants were awarded, for a total of 12 grants since the inception of the program.

teacher holding up two books

Grant recipient and Jane Ball Elementary School Teacher, Ashley Mitsch is grateful her students will benefit from the HSEF grant awarded to her classroom project.  

2020 and it accompanying challenges have required the creativity of our teachers and indeed, are at the heart of several grant requests.  Grant recipient and Jane Ball teacher Ashley Mitsch has ordered copies of the books “Polar Express” and “Henry’s Freedom Box.”   Mrs. Mitsch explains the use of the books granted as part of her request, Books for Every Student.  “Both of these books are for units that we do. “Polar Express” is our winter unit we do right before Christmas break. We spend a whole week on the book. The kids are actually gifted a bell and a ticket throughout the week. They find their bells hidden somewhere in their belongings. We end our unit with the movie and compare it to the book.  “Henry's Freedom Box” is part of our biography unit. We talk about Martin Luther King and how African Americans were enslaved. This book illustrates how one little boy tries to mail himself out of slavery. The book does a nice job of showing how awful slavery was, but on an age appropriate level for second graders.”  Without the grant funds, Mrs. Mitsch would, most likely, have put her single copy of each book under a projector so that her students could follow along.  “With all of the changes this year, it is hard to teach as we normally would,” she added.  “This gives my students an opportunity to see the books up close and better experience each one on a personal level.”   

 teacher and student with whiteboard

Hanover Central Middle School teacher Gretchen Burdan is pleased with the work Lily Chorba has done on her new whiteboard.

Kasey Mooney, a 5th grade teacher at Hanover Central Middle School and Gretchen Burdan, a 5th grade teacher, and a member of the HSEF Advisory Board and Grant Committee found the need to purchase new sets of a well-used tool in their classrooms with funding awarded through their; Whiteboards for Every Student, grant request.   “Students will use the whiteboards to share their work with teachers and other classmates,” explained Mrs. Burdan.  “Since we have had to make changes to our normal classroom routines because of Covid-19, we are using the whiteboards to allow students to still work together, but at a safe distance.  Our students will be very excited to use the whiteboards.  Ms. Mooney and I have whiteboards in our classrooms now, but they are very old and it’s clear they have been well used.  Some of them are hard to erase because they are so old.”

students and teachers with whiteboards

5th graders, Trista Newcomb and Nathan Jones, enjoy sharing their work on their new whiteboards with their teacher, Gretchen Burdan.  

Mrs. Burdan encourages teachers to apply for grants to improve or supplement their classroom teaching.  “If you have an idea that you are considering implementing in your classroom, it is very beneficial to apply for the grant.  The application is easy, and you can implement your ideas within a few weeks.  The grant helped us get things for our students that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford,” she explained. 

“I am grateful for my opportunity to serve on the HSEF Board, because when our Directors meet monthly, our conversation always focuses around providing scholarships for students or classroom grants for teachers.  Our goal in both cases is to provide opportunities for students,” said Mr. Eckart.

The following teachers and projects were approved and will be implemented in classrooms over the remainder of the year:

Sow Much Fun with Planting ($453)
Dawn Kepshire, Cindy Speichert and Janise Weiner (Jane Ball Elementary School)
Books for Every Student ($460)
Ashley Mitsch (Jane Ball Elementary School)
Boomwhacker and Drumming Fun for General Music ($432)
Caitlin Gomez (Hanover Central Middle School)
Personalized Learning ($600)
Jessica Kuechenberg (Hanover Central Middle School)
Whiteboards for All Students ($101)
Kasey Mooney and Gretchen Burdan (Hanover Central Middle School)
Social Emotional Learning in the Music Classroom ($484)
Christine Santaguida and Lesley Klauk (Jane Ball Elementary School)
Artistic Endeavors ($220)
John Cotey (Hanover Central High School)

students at their desks working

You can help!

If you’d like to support the work of the Hanover Schools Education Foundation you can donate directly by visiting the Hanover Schools Education Foundation webpage on the Hanover Schools website at Click on the Parents/Community tab at the top of the page and select “Hanover Schools Education Foundation” from the alphabetical directory.  You will find the “HSEF Contribution Form” on the left-hand side of the page.