South Fayette School District receives sizable grant

Published Jul 25, 2013 at 12:37 pm (Updated Jul 25, 2013 at 12:37 pm)

At a July 23 meeting of the South Fayette School Board, Superintendent Dr. Bille Rondinelli announced the district was awarded a $103,000 grant from the Grable Foundation. She said Director of Technology Aileen Owens did the legwork for the grant, which will be used by the district to help teach students computational thinking.

“This is one of the largest grants awarded by the Grable Foundation to a single school district,” Rondinelli said, adding that Pittsburgh Public Schools is the only other district to receive a grant of that size from the Grable Foundation.

Rondinelli said the district “strived very hard to achieve this goal.”

The Pittsburgh-based Grabel Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of children.

Owens said the $103,000 grant will be used to fund computational thinking in grades K-12 at South Fayette.

“It creates an innovative and creative opportunity for students,” Owens said of computational thinking, which falls under the school’s STEAM initiative (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). Owens said the grant will help the district reach out to other under-served school districts in the Pittsburgh area.

“It’s building a scaffolding of learning,” Owens said, adding that because concepts are being built at such an early age that it’s easy to grasp the next step in learning.

In addition to the Grable Grant, the district was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Sprout Fund, which Owens said will be used in the district’s environmental science curriculum in grades K-3.

Owens said funds from that grant will help with the building of sustainable gardens at the school. She added the district will be working with Braddock Farms and Grow Pittsburgh, as well as representatives from Wheeling Jesuit University on the sustainable gardens. South Fayette students will be designing raised garden plots and a variety of plants will be grown year-round. Owens said the school cafeteria will also be able to use some of the foods grown in the gardens.

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