Eighteen grants totaling $26,575 were awarded to educators at eight campuses by the Van Buren School District Education Foundation on Wednesday morning.

A total of $947,468 has been given out by the education foundation since it began awarding grants in 2001.

The foundation was created to provide funding to support programs and activities for students that are beyond the budgetary means of the school district. Funds provided by the foundation directly benefit students and teachers in the VBSD and make a positive difference for all 5,920 students, according to Debbie Thomas, education foundation director.

Four grants were awarded Wednesday to teachers at Van Buren High School.

Jessica Fisher, Jennifer Perry and Marcus Koch were surprised with a $2,250 grant to help with the May 26-27 performances of Mary Poppins Jr. at the Van Buren Fine Arts Center at the high school.

Fisher said the grant will help fund the staging and costume needs for the production by kindergarten through 12th grade students.

“To make this a great show we needed some help with funding for the stage setup and costumes to bring this production to life and create a theater experience for these kids that they will never forget,” Fisher said.

Lt. Col. Tommie Campbell and 1st Sgt. Gerald Phillips received a $3,000 grant to update technology for Army JROTC students. Another $2,995.01 went to Myron Heckman and Dusti Hurst for internet hotspots which can be checked out from the library. Michelle Hefner and Joan Porter received $600 to establish a hallway library.

Sarah Stokes and Anna Booth at the Freshman Academy received a $1,650 grant for “Big Wishes for Clean Dishes.”

“In the world of special education, one of the biggest challenges is teaching our students skills that will allow them to become independent members of society,” Booth said. “Washing dishes may not seem like something that is a necessity. However it is.”

She said the grant will enable the students to be taught how to load, run and unload the dishwasher.

Central Elementary School was presented a $3,000 grant for “Kinder Urgent Care.” Teachers involved in the project are Valerie Burns, Briana Roberson, Wendy Crawford, Josie Mabry, Jennifer Cahoon and Julia Cottrell.

The grant will assist Sparks Medical Center - Van Buren in providing a play hospital experience for about 500 kindergarten students in the district.

The application states the grant will allow students to learn how medical professionals keep them healthy.

Donations may be made to the education foundation in honor or memory of someone at P.O. Box 6803, Van Buren, AR 72957.