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PIE doles out more than $68,000 in grants for Vashon Island schools

Vashon Partners in Education had a successful phone-a-thon this year — pulling in nearly $60,000 from Island donors who answered the phone when PIE called for their support this fall — and doled out $68,840 in small grants to Island teachers this month.

This year’s phone-a-thon pulled in the second-most amount the fundraiser has ever made, said Janet Baron, president of PIE.

“This year was a close second, which is surprising, given the economy,” she said.

The nonprofit was able to fund every teacher and staff request made to it that met the organization’s grant criteria, she added.

Each year, Partners in Education collects money from the community, giving the contributions back to teachers in the form of small grants for items, experiences or other things that teachers and school district staff wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.

This year’s payout to teachers and other Vashon Island School District employees was the largest in PIE’s 20-year history, Baron said.

“Almost $69,000 is the most we’ve ever given out in grant money,” she said.

“It’s awesome” to be able to fund so many grant requests, she added, “especially in this time when there are so many budgetary cuts.”

Many of the grants asked for creative supplies and classroom items, Baron said.

“There weren’t requests for things like textbooks or dictionaries, which we have gotten in the past,” she said.

“It seemed like teachers were reaching out for supplemental things for their curriculum.”

For example, teachers Carrie Power and Greg McElroy filed a collaborative grant request to extend a popular robotics program at McMurray to students in ninth-grade, she said; fourth-grade teacher Mary Heath requested funds to create a native plant garden within Chautauqua’s already established educational garden.

“They’re going to tie that into their social studies curriculum,” Baron said. “They’ll talk about the use of native plants, both by Native Americans and by the people who have come here and settled.”

Vashon teachers who made grant requests this year “went above and beyond” with their creative proposals, Baron said, and Vashon students’ education will be enhanced by the items purchased with PIE funds.

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