Three Grants Pass Teachers Receive EXSEED Grants

May 08, 2018 | Jennifer Burkes

The Grants Pass Seventh-day Adventist School and the community of Grants Pass, Ore., are proud of the school's three EXSEED grant recipients. Amy Whitchurch, Bridget Cline and Sheryl Shewmake each received $2,000 for classroom improvements. Funds are for projects based on EXSEED principles.

Excellence in STEM Experiential Education (EXSEED) is an innovative, collaborative program between K–12 educators, schools and higher education institutions across the North American Division. Facilitated by Loma Linda University in California, EXSEED is designed to enhance integrated science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. 

Last summer, educators from Adventist K–12 schools attended a weeklong class in Loma Linda. The class focused on project-based learning (PBL) and mission-focused learning (MFL). Educators then were able to apply for grants to implement classroom projects.

In Grants Pass, these teachers involved the students in the grant writing process with discussion and voting. Teachers were required to submit hands-on lesson plans, as well as a video showing how they will meet requirements of the grant. Early in November, they excitedly received notification of the grant approval.

Cline, who teaches kindergarten through second grade, developed a “Maker Fun Space” with several small sewing machines and kits to build circuits. She plans to reach out to the community with projects created in this space, such as creating quilts for Project Linus. Additionally, with recently purchased iPads, students have learned to use Skype to discover more information about other countries. They will be communicating with a scientist working with sea turtles in Costa Rica.

Shewmake, who teaches third and fourth grade, used grant funds to develop a science lab. Part of the art room has been devoted to this lab space for use by students in third through sixth grade. It is now stocked with supplies and became functional just in time for the STREAMS Science Fair.

Whitchurch, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, also used her grant funds to develop a “maker space.” This included an assortment of supplies to help students create, problem-solve and learn. Additionally, the class recently received a small 3-D printer and pen. The creative opportunities are limitless.

These dedicated teachers have been successful by using a STREAMS approach to education — along with the principles of STEM, STREAMS adds art, religion and service as vital elements of their teaching, incorporating much more than technology. God and service are also very prominent in each classroom.