Emerson surprised teachers at five local schools, including Amelia Carriel Junior High School in O’Fallon, by announcing it will award them Emerson Gold Star Grants to fund projects in the classroom.
The grants, which are awarded annually through a competitive application process, are open to past recipients of the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award and will support a range of projects that would otherwise not have been funded.
“Emerson is proud to recognize and award teachers in the area who are leading the way in education,” said David J. Rabe, vice president for corporate social responsibility for Emerson. “These teachers are going beyond what is expected in their classrooms by creating innovative learning experiences for their students. This year’s Gold Star Grant recipients are champions of all three pillars of the Emerson Brand — technology, innovation and leadership — through their new classroom initiatives.
Amanda Mellenthin, a teacher at Carriel, along with fellow teachers Angi Piening and Brittany Meredith, are recipients of a $10,000 grant, which will fund the purchase of a 10-foot by 14-foot school greenhouse to expand the school’s current science and social studies initiatives.
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“Our grant is going to fund a school greenhouse and 10 Chromebooks, as well as resources to plant lots and lots of things in our garden next year; and especially lots of milkweed that we already have growing, and hopefully, we will be able to plant more here at Carriel and extend our Monarch (butterfly) habitat and hopefully spread that out to other schools in the district and beyond,” Mellenthin said.
The grant will also cover potting materials, watering tools, seed warming mats, and garden carts.
The plan is to purchase the greenhouse over the summer, which Mellenthin said will come in a prefabricated kit with the materials to be assembled and erected the first few weeks of school in the fall.
“It will likely be a team effort of student and staff members. Part of our success in generating ideas and having creative projects is including students in as much of the process as possible,” Mellenthin said.
Through the use of a school greenhouse, seventh-grade students will be able to test their own plant science investigations throughout the school year.
“Hopefully, with the greenhouse, it’ll give our kids lots of opportunities to experiment on their own — that’s when they learn, when they’re testing out their own ideas and trying out their own stuff,” Mellenthin said.
Chromebook technology will be used to document and communicate the successes and failures in their investigations, and to collaborate with other schools and community members online.
“So we take the science and what’s going on in the science curriculum and go out into the community, through the Chromebooks and through social media, emailing and networking, and look at how we can give back to our community through our garden experience and connect with what’s going on around us,” Piening said.
“As citizen scientists, the students would learn how food impacts their own community and be able to contribute extra vegetables to the local food pantry,” Mellenthin noted in the grant application as one project goal.
Carriel will also receive a $5,000 grant from Emerson that “will go to resources for the whole school, which I think we are going to put into some more Chromebooks so we have enough to share between ourselves and then with other classes too,” according to Mellenthin.
The trio encourage community members to stay tuned for upcoming opportunities that will be posted online for those who want to contribute in the garden over the summer.
“So, if you would like to be apart of the experience, we are going to be creating a Facebook page and Twitter account to share our learning, adventures, ideas and interact with community members,” Piening said.
This year’s other Emerson grant winners were from Brown Elementary in Florissant, Missouri; Bellerive Elementary in Creve Coeur, Missouri; Holy Cross Academy in St. Louis; and Hancock Place Elementary School in St. Louis.