While a chilly rain fell outside early Friday morning, the cafeteria at New Bloomfield High School buzzed with excitement.
Education Foundation President Angie Sullivan stepped up to the podium holding a stack of white envelopes. It was time, she said, to announce this year's classroom grant recipients.
The New Bloomfield Education Foundation was founded in 2011 by alumni and friends of the school. Sullivan said the group saw a gap in funding at the school and knew teachers sometimes need tools beyond the basics to maximize learning and make the classroom fun.
"I'm the daughter of a retired teacher, so I know how much of your own money you put into what you do," said grant committee member Amanda Toebben before the announcements began.
This year, the foundation disbursed $11,784.30 in grants to teachers throughout New Bloomfield R-3, bringing the group's total since 2011 to near $100,000. The group hosts fundraisers each year to pay for the grants and has set a goal of disbursing at least $10,000 every year.
Grant winners this year include:
Kayla Algiere, who received $320 to pay for a one-year subscription to Mathalicious, a math website for sixth-grade math through algebra II.
"The website has a bunch of applicable, real-world math problems we can use with students to keep them fully engaged with what they're learning," Algiere said.
Zach Morris, who received $1,625.18 to update the weight room with more additional equipment so it can be used by more students at once. He said the school's weights program is becoming more poplar, with 15 people now participating in the class.
"We were handcuffed with just a few weights here and there," he said.
Andrew Meyers, who received $69.15 to purchase four written resources for students studying botany. He said the guides would help his classes identify up to 45,000 different types of plants.
Christy Haas, who received $1,660 to purchase five Chromebooks for her art classroom. She said the Chromebooks will let her students access fun art-related websites and resources, including one that will allow them to draw their own characters to populate a video game.
Julie Morris, who received $567 for an iPad, Apple TV and Apple pen. She said she prefers to move around the room while teaching, and the iPad will allow her to write things to show up on the big screen while interacting with students.
"I like proximity," she said.
She also received a $650 grant to purchase 50 paperback copies of "The Great Gatsby" for one of her English classes.
"Next year it'll be 100 years since 1920, so I'm excited to throw a Gatsby party and dance the Charleston," Morris added.
The entire high school math department, which received $1,416 to purchase 12 TI-84 Plus graphing calculators.
Malinda Cline, Leslie Henke and Cindy Loftus, who received $599 for IXL personalized learning software for students with special needs in math, language arts, science and social studies. The software is usable for students in seventh through 12th grade.
Siobhanna Mayote, who received $977.97 to purchase three iPads to be used in her counseling office at the elementary school.
"In my room, we don't have a lot of tech, and I hate to have them bring their Chromebooks in," she said. "This will be great for small groups and for some of our frequent fliers who have trouble with coping skills."
There are many useful apps and online resources to help students calm themselves and learn how to better handle strong emotions and stress, she said.
Dana Bowlen, who received $3,900 to purchase 10 Chromebooks for FACS class. She said most core classes are now equipped with Chromebooks, but electives classrooms haven't been so lucky. Her students have been using older laptops with missing keys.
"The kids are going to be screaming with joy Tuesday when they see this," she said.
New Bloomfield Superintendent Sarah Wisdom said she's grateful to the Education Foundation for all the work they do to raise funds and help teachers.
"We're very lucky to have this group," she said.