A local insurance agent has pledged five grants of $100 monthly to Cedarville School District.
Renee Barrow of Renee Barrow Farmers Insurance agency in Van Buren awarded the grants to five CSD programs in the elementary and middle schools.
Farmers allows agents to spend up to $100 per classroom or program each month, Barrow said. The grants are awarded for the entire school year.
“We have to purchase the items and we have to deliver them; it gets us out in the community,” Barrow said.
Barrow can purchase almost anything needed for the program, from sensory equipment for special needs students, to party supplies to pizza, she said.
“It’s a way to make sure the teachers don’t have to pay out of their own pocket,” Barrow said.
Barrow graduated from Cedarville High School and while she is allowed to spread the grants around to other districts, CSD has a high need, she said.
“Cedarville seems to be pretty under-funded, so I’m just going to concentrate all of the grants there for now,” Barrow said.
Programs that will benefit from the grants are the elementary special education class, the middle school special education class, one second grade class, the after-school program and the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) lab, said Cedarville Elementary School Principal Rebecca Reed.
Second grade teacher Felicia Leister came across the grant opportunity on Facebook, she said.
“It was a chance thing, I wasn’t even looking for anything, and it just popped up,” Leister said.
Leister first directed elementary special education teacher Stephanie Brewer to the grant, believing it to be only for special education.
After speaking with Barrow, the educators soon realized the grants could go toward any program or class.
Programs chosen for the grants were based on need, and Leister’s class because she was the one who discovered the grants, said Cedarville Elementary Principal Rebecca Reed.
“It’s impacted us tremendously,” Reed said. “It’s been a great blessing to us, quite honestly.”
Both the STEAM lab and after-school program are new programs with no funding, Reed said. Most of the items for STEAM are donated, she said.
“To be able to have a little bit of funding to provide the things needed for experiments and projects is great,” Reed said.
For the after-school program, the money will be used to buy supplies and items for activities, Reed said.
Brewer plans to use most of her monthly grant for items geared toward her kindergarten students, she said. Students in her class have a spectrum of needs, she said.
“There’s always a constant need for renewing and replacing in our classroom,” Brewer said. “These things are just some really awesome tools that go beyond what we would normally be able to spend.”
Barrow’s first purchase for Brewer was a sensory saucer swing, which Brewer called a “godsend.”
“The kids love it,” Brewer said.
Brewer also is excited about the lack of restrictions on purchases.
“I don’t have to go through the process of getting anything approved or making sure we have the money for it,” Brewer said. “Anything we need, we should be able to get.”