Improving the Quality of Education in Mount Airy, NC 2013 recipients of the Zach Smith Fund announced

Public Education

The Zach Smith Fund was established to honor longtime trustee of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Zach Smith. Born in Mount Airy in 1925, Smith served as a trustee of the Foundation for 41 years; eight of those as president. The fund was created in 2009 with gifts made in memory of Zach Smith from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and his family and friends. It provides grant awards designed to improve the quality of education in Mount Airy, North Carolina. The fund is administered by the Winston-Salem Foundation.

Grants support projects which provide professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators. These include student and/or teacher originated projects supporting such activities as civic education, environmental education, local and state history, or humanities projects that encourage creativity. This year, the fund awarded a total of $16,000 to four schools in Mount Airy.

Funds generated by this endowment are outside the scope of the Foundation’s traditional grantmaking and are restricted. The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation extends congratulations to this year’s award winners, whose projects are described below.

2013 Award Recipients –

Kelly Johnson, STEAM coach at B.H. Tharrington Primary School
Number of years in profession: 9
Teachers and students impacted: 20 teachers, 393 students
Kelly leads a new program designed to seamlessly integrate the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) for students in pre-kindergarten through second grade. This grant is targeted at expanding students’ experience through hands-on, project-based lessons that expand knowledge and create excitement about learning. The grant will also benefit the collaboration of teachers at B.H. Tharrington who will work together to support students with STEAM learning.
Ashlee Kniskern, Art teacher at Jones Intermediate School
Number of years in profession: 2
Teachers and students impacted: 1 teacher, 300 students

As an art teacher, Ashlee strives to help to create innovative thinkers and provide students with exposure to the world of art beyond the walls of the classroom. With the implementation of this grant, students will have the opportunity to use the latest technology to visit art galleries, practice art techniques, collaborate with their classmates, and view art all through the interaction with a SMART LightRaise™ interactive projector. With the projector, students will also be able to take virtual field trips through art galleries online such as: The North Carolina Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Brittany Branch, Science teacher at Millennium Charter Academy
Number of years in profession: 4
Teachers and students impacted: 27 teachers, 335 students

With this grant, Brittany will work to more closely align Millennium’s science program with the Common Core Standards and with the school’s mission by integrating science with literature and other subjects. Science teachers will connect labs to literature through improved lab equipment and supplies along with high-interest read-aloud selections. Brittany hopes the project will help students understand the beauty and order of the physical world and our relationship to that world through inductive and deductive methodologies, and through empirical inquiry and rational inquiry.

Patricia Combs, Math teacher at Mount Airy Middle School
Number of years in profession: 10
Teachers and students impacted: 4 teachers, 145 students

Patricia and her colleagues who teach 7th grade seek to provide targeted intervention for students who are in need of academic support. This grant will allow them to implement the CompassLearning Odyssey Suite program which provides interactive online lessons and activities for students. The program will allow students to receive differentiated and personalized instruction in math and language arts based on the students’ individual needs. The project will supplement classroom instruction by providing students with additional review and practice, according to their needs. Patricia believes this program will have a deep impact on students because it offers real world scenarios/questions which make the material more relevant.