Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund

 The Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund (PROF) is a non-profit educational foundation committed to enriching and investing in the experiences of every Pine-Richland student through staff grants, student scholarships and community partnerships.


SPACE TO COLLABORATE IS SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE AT PRMS

Today’s classrooms are nothing like those from days past. Rather than rigid lines of desks and little to no moving around (remember raising your hand to sharpen a pencil that didn’t need sharpening just to get out of your seat?), classrooms often are set up to encourage collaboration to more closely simulate real-world working environments.

With that in mind, the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund has funded a grant request from the middle school to help create a “collaboration room.” The school district is funding technology to aid in collaboration, including Chromebooks and tablets, but PROF was asked to fund flexible seating options to better encourage students working together.

“The collaboration room will be used daily in periods one and two by students in the gifted and talented program,” says teacher CC Kelly. “But the rest of the day, teachers in other classrooms throughout the school and reserve the room for use by their classes.”

The collaboration room offers a more relaxed and flexible setting for discussions or Socratic seminars, as well as for hands-on group projects, says Kelly. Supported by teachers, school administrators, a librarian and a technology expert, the Middle School Collaboration Room will add to the learning options available to all students.

PROF is a non-profit educational foundation committed to enriching and investing in the experiences of the Pine-Richland student community through staff grants, student scholarships and community partnerships. PROF’s fast grants program funds teacher and staff grant requests of $1,000 or less outside of its normal grant funding cycles. To help fund grants such as these, consider donating at www.prof-fund.org/donate.


BREAKOUT EDUCATIONAL FUN AT EHUE THANKS TO PROF GRANT

Most by now have at least heard of Escape Rooms – the interactive, problem-solving activity families and groups of friends are engaged in across the country. Thanks to the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund, students at Eden Hall Upper Elementary School may experience something similar in their classrooms and library time.

PROF funded the purchase of a Breakout EDU 6-Kit Bundle through its fast grants program. Breakout EDU is an immersive games platform that brings the challenges of an escape room to the classroom with more than 1,500 Common Core standards-aligned games and the tools to empower students to design their own digital games. The 6-kit bundle will serve as a pilot program, with one teacher in each biome spanning the three grade levels receiving platform access, as well as platform access for the two grant requestors (librarian Beth Shenefiel and 6thgrade teacher Dana Lestitian).

“We are eager to see our kids’ problem-solving skills and creativity put to the test in this fun, engaging educational gaming platform,” says Shenefiel. “We know kids learn best when they are actively engaged rather than passively listening, so this pilot program, which is aligned to our Common Core standards, will give us another way to reach our students and get them involved in the learning process.”

Teachers have adapted to the pandemic restrictions by utilizing the digital platform which allows users to play the “game” without the use of the accompanying kit. Shenefiel feels, “the diversity of topics already housed on the platform, combined with the capability of students and teachers to design games allow learning opportunities to be aligned to curricular content.”

The Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund is a non-profit educational foundation committed to enriching and investing in the experiences of the Pine-Richland student community through staff grants, student scholarships and community partnerships. PROF’s fast grants program funds teacher and staff grant requests of $1,000 or less outside of its normal grant funding cycles. To help fund grants such as these, consider donating at www.prof-fund.org/donate.


STUDENTS FLYING INTO THE FUTURE THANKS TO PROF GRANT

Is it a bird or a plane? Actually - it’s a drone programmed by second- and third-grade students thanks to a fast grant from the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund. Five LocoRobo codable aerial robots along with a companion curriculum are flying around Hance Elementary.

Coding with drones will be a great addition to the Hance Elementary Fab Lab.  We are excited to integrate this activity for all students that are interested in the near future.” says Greta Kuzilla, Hance Elementary Principal. “Students are no longer coding a cartoon on a screen, but a device that responds to real-time coding commands. It’s incredible what they are able to learn.”

The Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund is a non-profit educational foundation committed to enriching and investing in the experiences of the Pine-Richland student community through staff grants, student scholarships and community partnerships. PROF’s fast grants program funds teacher and staff grant requests of $1,000 or less outside of its normal grant funding cycles. To help fund grants such as these, consider donating at www.prof-fund.org/donate.


MUSIC KITS KEEPS THE ARTS ALIVE FOR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS

Just as the Pine-Richland School District has done in these unprecedented times, the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund has adapted and helped teachers fulfill needs that in a “normal” school year may not have been present. The music department is no exception. Due to the restrictions at this time, our elementary students will not be able to visit the music room, sing, or play and share instruments. Teacher Carly Tansimore saw the need for her students and reached out to PROF to help supply the students with individual ‘music kits’ for all students, virtual and in-person, that will be utilized at Hance and Richland elementary schools. 

Although this is a - hopefully - temporary situation, PROF believes that these kits are important to the musical development of each student. Carly Tansimore states, “These individual kits will include safe plastic instruments and items to use during music instruction that will greatly enhance the learning of students during this time. Students will use the items to focus on steady beat, movement, pitch exploration, echo “humming”, and rhythm/pitch dictation and notation.”

PROF is a non-profit educational foundation committed to enriching and investing in the experiences of every Pine-Richland student through staff grants, student scholarships and community partnerships. PROF’s fast grants program funds teacher and staff grant requests of $1,000 or less outside of its normal grant funding cycles. To help fund grants such as these, consider donating at www.prof-fund.org/donate.


PROF Buzzes in with Funding for PRMS National Academic League

In its second year as an “official” student club (its fourth year as a club), the Pine-Richland Middle School’s National Academic League applied for and received a fast grant from the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund to purchase a “challenge buzzer system.” The NAL is an academic competitive league where students compete with other area middle school teams to answer questions in 22 subject areas during the months of January and February.

To participate in the past, PRMS’ NAL group had to rely on borrowed challenge buzzer systems from other school districts. The PROF grant means they will have their own system for competitions and for practice during the fall. Unlike many other NAL teams in the area, PR’s team is open to all students, not just those in the gifted education program. Typically, about 25 students participate in the club, with 10 actively competing at each competition.

“Our team’s philosophy is to celebrate academic excellence and engage as many students as we can,” says Anne Harris-Crowe, PRMS social studies teacher and one of the club’s advisors. “We appreciate PROF’s financial assistance, which will greatly benefit our program and make our competition set-up much less cumbersome.”

Jennifer Mullaugh, a counselor at PRMS, is also a club advisor. “The PROF grant was a huge help to us last year.  We were able to purchase buzzers for all of our competitions, which were held weekly during the months of January and February.  We also brought them to the county competition, where our team came in second place!” She adds, “This year the competition has been cancelled, however, we will continue to work with students, teach them the game and have mock competitions. The buzzers will be utilized for these practices. We are more grateful than ever to have them because we can continue to run our club while maintaining COVID rules.”

The Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund is a non-profit educational foundation committed to enriching and investing in the experiences of the Pine-Richland student community through staff grants, student scholarships and community partnerships. PROF’s fast grants program funds teacher and staff grant requests of $1,000 or less outside of its normal grant funding cycles. To help fund grants such as these, consider donating at www.prof-fund.org/donate.


PROF GRANTS HELPS REVIVE OUTDOOR LEARNING SPACES AT HANCE

The Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund was pleased to help revive and expand the outdoor learning classroom at Hance Elementary School as part of the organization’s 2019-20 grants program. The Hance Habitat  includes a durable metal roof structure overlooking the existing outdoor amphitheater to be used by the staff as new outdoor classroom and collaboration area.  This innovative project exemplifies one of the pillars of PROF’s mission in working with community partners to enable Pine-Richland staff members’ outstanding ideas come to life.  Funding was made possible through Pennsylvania's Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program via donations from NexTier Bank, First Commonwealth Bank, Trumbull Corporation and UPMC Health Systems.

“We are excited to be part of the Hance Habitat revival project, which will provide students and staff a safe, flexible and invigorating outdoor space in which to learn,” says Deborah Lund, PROF executive director. “It will be a wonderful space to experience lessons in STEAM subjects and engage in hands-on learning in the outdoors, as well as a place for teachers and staff to take a brain break during the day.”

PROF is a non-profit educational foundation committed to enriching and investing in the experiences of the Pine-Richland student community through staff grants, student scholarships and community partnerships. PROF’s fast grants program funds teacher and staff grant requests of $1,000 or less outside of its normal grant funding cycles. To help fund grants such as these, consider donating at www.prof-fund.org/donate.


PROF GRANT HELPS ENHANCE EXISTING SENSORY ROOM AT PRHS

You may recall news reports last summer about a new “sensory room” at the Pittsburgh International Airport for use by both children and adults on the autism spectrum to decompress from the stress of traveling. Would it surprise you to know that Pine-Richland High School has a sensory room of its own? Thanks to a grant from the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund, the PRHS multi-sensory room saw some upgrades and additions.

What is a multi-sensory room, you may wonder? It is a dedicated space or room where sensory stimulation can be controlled (either intensified or reduced) to fit the therapeutic and/or educational needs of the user. They often include lighting effects, sensory activities (think blowing bubbles or play dough), tactile experiences involving different textures, soft items for sitting or laying on, and sound effects or rhythmic music. 

“While the primary use of this room will be to help engage and work with our special needs students, this multi-sensory room will also help teach students who participate in the Peer Buddies program how to use different techniques to support others by using sensory resources,” says Tracey Settembrino, PRHS special education teacher. “It may also be useful in our health and physical education curriculum in teaching mindfulness meditation and the importance of taking brain breaks for overall health and well-being.”

"Due to a lack of available grant funds for the year, PROF was only able to partially fund this grant request, but the hope is to fully fund the needs of the multi-sensory room in future grant cycles," says Deborah Lund, PROF’s executive director.

PROF is a non-profit educational foundation committed to enriching and investing in the experiences of the Pine-Richland student community through staff grants, student scholarships and community partnerships. PROF’s fast grants program funds teacher and staff grant requests of $1,000 or less outside of its normal grant funding cycles. To help fund grants such as these, consider donating at www.prof-fund.org/donate.


IMPACTFUL GRANTS FROM PROF FUEL TEACHER PASSION PROJECTS

It was a grants cycle with wide-ranging student impact for the Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund this fall. The non-profit education foundation, which directly benefits students in the Pine-Richland school district, funded teacher and staff grant projects totaling nearly $47,000 so far this year.

“We were surprised and delighted by the number and quality of grant submissions we received,” said Deborah Lund, PROF’s executive director. “It was clear that the teachers and staff who submitted applications are extremely passionate about their projects, and PROF’s board was pleased to feed that passion.”

PROF fully or partially funded the following projects:

  • Collaboration Room (partially funded)– A specially designed space within the Pine-Richland Middle School to include interactive technology and flexible seating to more fully stimulate real-world collaboration, problem-solving and communication.
  • Hackathon (fully funded)– Purchasing Sphero bolt programmable robots and Arduino open-source electronics platform classroom starter kits for use in the annual “hackathon” event at Pine-Richland High School attended by elementary, middle and high school students.
  • Hance Habitat (fully funded)– Revival of the Hance Habitat outdoor learning space and educational area at Hance Elementary School to include updated seating and a gazebo to provide much-needed protection from the elements.
  • Multi-Sensory Environment (partially funded) – Creating a state-of-the-art multi-sensory room for use primarily by the life skills and autism support students and those that work with them at Pine-Richland High School as an upgrade to an existing space.

The decision on which grants were fully funded versus partially funded was not a reflection of their worthiness, according to Lund. With a limited amount of grant dollars to allocate for the year, the decision was made to fully fund those grants that required the entire amount to be activated. The remaining projects can be implemented in stages, with PROF’s goal to provide additional money in future grant award cycles.

In addition to these larger projects, PROF activated its new “fast grants” program for requests under $1,000. The foundation was able to fund nine such mini-grants this year as part of the $47,000 total.

Parents, local businesses and community members are urged to help PROF’s initiative to fund innovative grant projects such as these.  Please donate here: www.prof-fund.org/donate.


PROF launches FAST GRANTS Program

PROF’s Outstanding Ideas Grants Program helps fund innovative projects dreamed up by Pine-Richland teachers and staff to enrich the educational experiences of their students either inside or outside of the classroom. The FAST APPLICATION serves to streamline the grant request and approval processes for applicants. If a grant request is $1,000 or less, PROF will consider a FAST application to evaluate and respond quickly. See the FAST GRANT page to learn how to apply.                       


Share Your Pine-Richland Pride Story - #PROF_FUND


ProudToBePR.jpgPROF’s mission is to enrich and invest in the educational experiences of the Pine-Richland Community. We provide financial grants to innovative staff members. We award scholarships to deserving students. We build partnerships to create great experiences for our students and community. It starts with being ProudtobePR. Share your story and join us in our mission.

Follow us and post your Pine-Richland pride photo, video or story:

Twitter & Instagram: @PROF_FUND

YouTube:  Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund 

 


PROF is a member of the Steering Committee for the Association of Pennsylvania Education Foundations (APEF) and an affiliate member of the National School Foundation Association (NSFA). 

APEF_LOGO_STACK.jpg  NSFA.png


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