The Southern Lehigh School Board on Monday discussed classroom mini-grants that are being used by teachers to help encourage professional development and promote critical thinking skills among their students.
Several Southern Lehigh High School teachers are applying for mini-grants for the upcoming school year; grants that will help broaden their curricula.
Compared with the established curricula, the mini-grants “add additional money for different, innovative classroom practices,” said Southern Lehigh School District Superintendent Kathleen Evison. “The goal is, provided every teacher has the opportunity to apply, to implement an instructional practice within their classrooms that they believe is beneficial to their students.”
“Some of those (practices) in the past have started as a mini-grant, have been very successful and have been rolled out further across the district,” she explained.
As part of an effort to build on that success, last year’s mini-grant recipients will be asked about what students learned and what skills they gained, the board was told.
A successful mini-grant-funded classroom project that was discussed at the meeting is a Mobile Restaurant Business Project run by Danika Wall of the high school’s Family and Consumer Science Department.
According to the board’s 2019-2020 mini-grants list, the project provides students with mobile restaurant equipment, first-hand knowledge of the components of a food truck or mobile restaurant business, and the opportunity to operate their own mobile restaurant during school events.
“They also do nutritional analysis, budget analysis and business plans for their restaurants,” said high school principal Beth Guarriello. “It’s not just the cooking. It’s the nutritional aspect, the science behind the food and the business planning.”
Guarriello said $2,000 in profits generated by the mobile restaurant project’s coffee shop and Multicultural Foods Project were donated back to the community in the form of $100 Giant gift cards that were given to local families in need. A small amount of money was kept in reserve to be seed money for funding next year’s Mobile Restaurant Business Project.
Board members said they would like to continue to receive updates about the projects that are funded by the mini-grants in the future.
In other business, the board thanked secretary Diana Millman for her years of service to the district.
Millman, who was not present for the meeting, is retiring in early July.
“She will be missed,” board president Emily Gehman said.
The next Southern Lehigh School Board meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school board room.
For future meeting dates, agendas and other school board-related information, visit the district’s website.
Tim Healy is a Bethlehem Township resident and a student at Boston College, where he studies English. Read more of his writing on the independently-published local website, The Valley Nugget.