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story.lead_photo.caption The North Callaway R-1 School District recently received a grant for $1,590 from the Casey's Cash for Classrooms program to create a sensory room at Williamsburg Elementary School. The room is expected to be ready for the start of the 2021-22 school year in the fall. Photo by Ryan Boland / Fulton Sun.

Sarah Baumgartner one day envisions seeing a sensory room for students in every North Callaway R-1 School District building.

Baumgartner — North Callaway's director of special programs — has a start in realizing that significant objective.

North Callaway recently learned it will receive a grant for $1,590 from the Casey's Cash for Classrooms program to create a sensory room at Williamsburg Elementary School.

A sensory room offers students a safe location to calm, relax and refocus to learn with their classmates.

"We are so grateful to receive a Cash for Classrooms grant and are excited to complete this important project that will improve our students' ability to learn and grow each day," Baumgartner said. "I requested the funds (in the grant application) with this project in mind. Kids are missing out on a lot of real-life calming strategies. This (room) will get them school-ready and focused."

Baumgartner explained she will collaborate with Allie Brett — the district's contracted occupational therapist — on strategies for the sensory room. She added that staff in Williamsburg will also undergo training on following proper protocols.

The room is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2021-22 school year in the fall.

"I'm going to be happy to have it up and running," Baumgartner said. "This will be my big summer project."

For more information on Casey's Cash for Classrooms grant program, visit www.caseys.com/community/cash-for-classrooms-grants. The 2022 grant program will open in the fall.

"The past year has been unlike any other for schools, and our Cash for Classrooms grants will help schools through this difficult time as well as to improve the learning environment for the future," Katie Petru — Casey's director of community — said in a news release announcing the North Callaway grant.

"Casey's is here for good and that means supporting students, teachers and families in our local communities," Petru added.

In the meantime, Baumgartner will direct her efforts to expand the number of sensory rooms in North Callaway schools.

"In each building there is a need for it," Baumgartner said. "I'll continue to work on creative avenues to get them."

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