By JENNIFER MEIER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
At first glance the classrooms at Heritage Intermediate School in Middlebury look like most other classrooms in the district.
On closer inspection, the rooms are missing something that is standard in the four elementary schools, Northridge Middle School and Northridge High School — Promethean Boards.
Delores Merrick, in her new position as director of personnel for Middlebury Schools, is on her way to changing that through her grant writing skills.
“As school budgets continue to shrink,” Merrick said. “We are continually looking for different funding.”
Merrick discovered Clorox’s Power a Bright Future, a program that offers grants for schools. More than 1,000 schools have submitted grants proposals, completed a competitive national nomination period and are now hoping to secure funding.
This waiting game calls for active participation from the community. From Nov. 12 until Dec. 19, adults and children ages 13 and older can vote twice a day for the Heritage Intermediate Promethean Board Program by visiting www.PowerABrightFuture.com and then texting 95240 and entering code pabf6930.
The program that receives the highest number of votes will be awarded a $50,000 grant, while the next three top vote-getters in the Play, Create and Explore categories will receive a $25,000 grant. In addition the Clorox judging panel will select three additional schools to win a $25,000 judge’s choice grant.
“I look at this type of potential funding as a community fund raising that doesn’t involve people having to buy anything that they may not really want. They can go online every day at work and at home and vote and then vote again by texting on their mobile device,” Merrick said. “It is a great way to make a huge impact with very little effort.”
Merrick said that students come to HIS from the four elementary schools with understanding of and experience with the Promethean Board.
“They have experienced learning that was enhanced through technology to make it interactive and engaging,” Merrick said. “However the same technology is not available at HIS and students no longer, for instance, experience the excitement of doing math problems interactively on the Promethean Board or learn to spell in new ways. Teachers are forced to engage in only traditional teaching methods.”
Promethean Boards are expensive and winning the $50,000 grant would allow HIS to purchase the boards, projectors and document cameras for 15 of their 25 general education classrooms.
“It would be remarkable if our community could rally around this and harness the votes to get the technology that HIS so desperately needs,” Merrick said. “I have seen this community rally around causes and I want this to be one of those causes.”
The Promethean Board is an interactive whiteboard that connects to a computer and gives students hands on practice and personal involvement in the learning process while encouraging them to embrace technology. The boards come with a variety of accessories that make the possibilities for collaborations, communication and interaction among students practically endless. Using a special pen that functions like a mouse, teachers can search the web, insert video clips, graphs, charts and photos, and students can even vote using hand-held remotes.
Delores Merrick served on the Middlebury School Board for nine years, from 2000-2008. During that time she secretary for two years, vice president for two years and president for two years. She also served on the board for the 2011-2012 school year. Merrick was involved in grant writing for 10 years with Child and Parents Services of Elkhart County, an organization to help prevent child abuse and strengthen families.