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Pinellas County teachers awarded grants
News, Schools
Pinellas County teachers awarded grants

PINELLAS COUTY, Florida -- Twenty-two Pinellas County teachers and seven private school teachers are among the 206 educators acroos the District's 16-county region awarded Splash! school grants on Dec. 20 through the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The goal of the Splash! school grant program is to provide hands-on learning opportunities that teach students about their local watersheds and the freshwater resources within them. Splash! school grants provide up to $5,000 per school on a reimbursement basis only and are available to public, private and homeschool teachers.

Mary Margaret Hull, lead communications coordinator, attributed the effectiveness of the grant program in Pinellas County to the strong partnership with Pinellas County Schools, which helped get the word out to teachers. Julie Poth, elementary science supervisor for Pinellas County Schools, serves as the District’s liaison to teachers.

“These teachers are receiving a small amount of money but are able to accomplish so much,” Hull said in a statement. “Grant recipients also use the District’s collection of curriculum materials and other free educational resources.”

The Pinellas County awardees include:

  • Jodi Warson, Bay Point Elementary School, will receive $2,625. Students will take an educational field trip to Lake Maggiore to perform water quality tests and learn about restoration efforts.
  • Jill Jackson, Curlew Creek Elementary School, will receive $785. Students will plant two gardens: one traditional, one organic. They will compare the gardens and use rain barrels to water them.
  • Jacqueline Lavely, Gibbs High School, will receive $4,889. Students will take educational field trips to local water bodies to perform water quality tests.
  • DonnaJo Reynolds, Gulfport Montessori School, will receive $2,010. Students will take a guided tour through mangroves, perform estuary dipnetting activities, learn about sea grasses and engage in a coastal cleanup.
  • Laurie Winsor, High Point Elementary School, will receive $4,474. Students will take educational field trips to observe natural systems and perform water quality tests.
  • Leslie Pohley, Largo Middle School, will receive $3,650. Students will plant a hydroponics garden on campus. They will visit local water bodies to perform water quality tests and create projects documenting their findings.
  • Sheryl Menchaca, Lealman Avenue Elementary School, will receive $547. Students will take a field trip to the Florida Botanical Gardens to learn about Florida plants.
  • Natasha Coles, Madeira Beach Fundamental School, will receive $2,300. Students will plant and maintain a hydroponics garden on campus.
  • Michael Meilak, Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School, will receive $3,600. Students will take a field trip to Hillsborough River State Park to learn about the watershed and freshwater ecosystems, collect water samples, and observe karst topography.
  • Elizabeth Zuniga, Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School, will receive $1,005. Students will take a field trip with Tampa Bay Watch to learn about the protection of estuarine environments and participate in a service project.
  • Kathleen Davies, Northwest Elementary School, will receive $1,398. Students will take a field trip to Weedon Island Preserve to participate in a guided nature tour focusing on freshwater systems and watersheds.
  • Jennifer Kennan, Osceola Middle School, will receive a groundwater model. Students will learn about the Floridan aquifer system and Florida’s water supply through use of the model.
  • Susan Carney, Ozona Elementary School, will receive $3,571. Students will plant a hydroponics garden on campus, take a field trip to Brooker Creek Preserve and create mini aquatic ecosystems inside the classroom.
  • Anne Weller, Perkins Elementary School, will receive $2,766. Students will create traditional and hydroponics gardens on campus.
  • Suzanne Mizzi, Pinellas Preparatory Academy, will receive $2,825. Students will participate in educational field trips to learn about Florida’s environment and the importance of stewardship.
  • Tracy Staley, Ponce de Leon Elementary School, will receive $2,442. Students will plant a water-conserving garden on campus, using water from rain barrels for irrigation.
  • Heather Judkins, Seminole High School, will receive $2,434. Students will set up an aquaculture system on campus and keep journals documenting the project.
  • Mistie Meditz, Skyview Elementary School, will receive $4,380. Students will take a field trip to Fort DeSoto Park. They will participate in a guided nature tour, perform dipnetting activities, learn about sea grasses and participate in a coastal cleanup.
  • Maria Wyatt, Southern Oak Elementary School, will receive $4,500. Students will build a hydroponics garden on campus, study how hydroponics saves water, energy and space and present their findings to the community.
  • Janice Creneti, Tarpon Springs High School, will receive $3,827. Students will take educational field trips to learn about Florida’s watersheds. They will evaluate their campus using water quality tests and field studies, and plant native vegetation.
  • Karen Stockton, Westgate Elementary School, will receive $2,750. Students will study the Floridan aquifer system and Florida’s water supply through use of a groundwater model. They will also take educational field trips to learn about local ecosystems.
  • Monica Taylor, Woodlawn Elementary School, will receive $1,680. Students will study the water cycle and the role of wetlands through a field trip to Weedon Island Preserve, and participate in a coastal cleanup in St. Petersburg.

In addition to the county’s public schools, seven private schools were awarded Splash! grants.

  • Linda Susens, Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, will receive $990. Students will plant a hydroponics garden on campus, and keep journals documenting plant growth and water use.
  • Debby Obst, Brighton Preparatory School, will receive $1,018, Students will take educational field trips to Weedon Island Preserve and Fort DeSoto Park to study habitats and perform cleanups.
  • Linda Jordan, Indian Rocks Christian School, will receive $1,819. Students will expand an existing hydroponics garden on campus. They will be assigned plants to monitor through the year.
  • Pamela Hartzell, New Middle School, will receive $1,741. Students will set up freshwater ecosystems within the school. They will study Florida’s geography and the impact of stormwater runoff on the water supply.
  • Marta Kellam, Palm Harbor Montessori Academy, will receive $1,749. Students will create freshwater ecosystems on campus and give guided tours of these mini habitats.
  • Gabriel Lee, Shorecrest Preparatory School, will receive $1,000. Students will take a field trip to Fort DeSoto to study mangroves, estuaries and biological diversity.
  • Kathryn Jewett, St. Cecelia Interparochial School, will receive $3,955. Students will take a field trip to Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, investigate what it means to grow plants organically and examine how the water cycle works.

Past Splash! grant projects include water quality monitoring of local lakes and rivers, the development of water-conserving gardens on school properties, and outreach campaigns designed to promote awareness of water-conserving practices.

In addition to Splash! grant funding, the District offers educators free teacher training workshops, speakers for classroom presentations and free educational materials. The publications are correlated to Florida’s Sunshine State Standards and can also be ordered on the District’s web site at WaterMatters.org/publications/.

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