Turning 17 this year, the Amphi Foundation’s annual Bowl-a-thon fundraiser is now older than most students in the school district. But people are never too old to build a community while striking some pins.
However, sometimes schools require more than goodwill—and the Bowl-a-thon provides plenty additional help.
“The primary focus of the Bowl-a-thon is to build community between our teachers and our staff,” said Leah Noreng, executive director of the Amphi Foundation. “Over the years it has turned into a fundraiser, but is still mostly about community.”
All proceeds from the Bowl-a-thon event benefit the Amphi Foundation’s “21st Century Classroom” technology initiative which puts modern technology into the hands of both teachers and students. The foundation is a separate entity from the district, though established to benefit the Amphi Public Schools community. The foundation’s technology initiative started in January 2007 by placing interactive and educational SMART boards in classrooms. And now, thanks to donations, the Foundation has placed the technology in each of the district’s 21 schools.
“Once every school had their SMART boards, we moved to supplying laptops and personal technology for the students,” Noreng said. “Our next goal is to get enough funding to put five laptops in every elementary school classroom.”
These SMART boards and laptops are just the beginning for interactive technologies at Amphi; through funding the foundation was also able to purchase a 3D printer for every middle school in the district.
“I will never be able to raise enough for technology for the students,” Noreng said. “As soon as we finish, we need to buy more technology.”
In total, the foundation is hoping to raise $300,000 for the district this year, $40,000 of which is planned to go toward technology.
“Originally we only want to purchase technology that the teacher would use to help teach the students,” Noreng said. “But with the laptops we’re also interested in technology that leads to individual learning, like coding programs where the kids think they’re playing but they’re actually learning how to code.”
Beyond explicitly technological funding, for the upcoming school year, the Amphi Foundation is offering classroom grants and “start up” grants for teachers. $10,000 in classroom grants is up for grabs for Amphi teachers to fund educational initiatives. The grants come in the form of $200 donations to the district’s newest teachers to assist with the costs associated with setting up their classrooms for the first time.
In the last two years, the Amphi Foundation has awarded $30,000 in classroom grants, awarding funds to every school in the district at least once. In the last two years, new teachers also received $20,000 in start-up grants from the foundation. Just this last month, 38 new teachers received start up grants.
“These grants are used for purchasing such a wide variety of things for teachers,” Noreng said. “It’s interesting to see how the teachers spend that money.”
One such classroom grant was a $449 grant used to purchase materials to set up a “Sensory Table” in a Kindergarten class at Mesa Verde Elementary. Sand, scoopers, tweezers and other such tools gave students the opportunity to practice their motor and mechanical skills in a playful setting.
A $330 grant to the Coronado K-8 School funded a “CHOICES Coffee Cart” program. CHOICES (Children Having Opportunities in Choosing Educational Success) is a special education program for students with behavioral and emotional challenges to run their own version of a coffee shop on wheels. The students wheel the cart around campus, taking teachers’ orders, brewing beverages, and delivering the orders back to the teachers. The cart program allows students to learn social skills, customer service and how to work collaboratively.
“It is really expensive to start up a new classroom or project, and teachers are purchasing supplies with their own money,” Noreng said. “My goal is to raise enough money to be able to give every teacher a grant.”
The 17th Annual Bowl-a-thon is on Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Fiesta Lanes bowling alley. For more information, visit amphifoundation.org