Sierra Oakhurst Kiwanis donate $10,000 in grants to mountain area schools


As has become tradition, the Sierra Oakhurst Kiwanis gifted local elementary and middle schools some early Christmas presents in the form of mini-grants.

The award ceremony took place Dec. 18 at El Cid restaurant in Oakhurst. About 50 Kiwanis members and educators packed into the restaurant for the award ceremony.

A total of $10,000 worth of proceeds from the Run for the Gold Car Show, which took place in September, was divided between 18 grant recipients.

“Kiwanis is really for the kids. Every community, every kid, that’s what we do,” said Sierra Oakhurst Kiwanis past president Bob Spinelli. “For the last four years, we’ve been giving out $10,000. That’s what we do, that’s our purpose.”

In order to receive a grant, teachers submitted applications, which included a letter of intent and their need for the funding. Those applications are then reviewed by a committee of Kiwanis members.

The grants funded a number of different programs and subjects in 10 separate eastern Madera County schools, ranging from books, to musical instruments and even a tether-ball set for homeschooled students.

Spring Valley Elementary School received a total of seven grants and Kim Boatman, teacher at Spring Valley, was grateful because the grant was going to help make their springtime program possible.

“It’s great. It’s been repetitive. I think it’s the fifth year now that they have been able to help us out with this,” Boatman said. “I’m very, very thankful for that.”

For Mindy Gresham, teacher at Coarsegold Elementary School, the grant will bring kinesthetic learning materials to her classroom. These materials will help her accommodate students who have an easier time learning through physical activity rather than a lecture or worksheet.

“I teach a (second and third grade) combination class and in order for them to understand that curriculum, they really need to be able to interact with it,” Gresham, a member of Kiwanis for about four years herself, said. “Kiwanis has been great handing out these grants for a number of years. They’re just a great organization.”

This is the seventh year in a row that the Sierra Oakhurst Kiwanis have used the proceeds from the car show for the mini-grants. In those seven years, the club has donated upwards of about $80,000 in mini-grants.

Kiwanis Mini Grants

The recipients of the Kiwanis 2018 mini-grants and what the funds will be used for are as follows:

  • Oakhurst Elementary School - principal Kathy Murphy: Grant will be used to purchase three copies of five books that encourage reading of popular literature among young people.
  • Oakhurst Elementary School - teacher Robin Ward: Grant will be used to purchase 30 sets of headphones and headphone storage, so that more students will have a headset to use with their Chromebooks.

  • Wasuma Elementary School, Oakhurst Elementary School and Oak Creek Intermediate School - technology coordinator Kris Barnes: Grant will be used to purchase six Sphero programmable robots to support a STEM-based computer science program.

  • North Fork Elementary School, Spring Valley Elementary School, Hillside Elementary School and Chawanakee Academy - teacher Bill Samuelson: Grant will be used to purchase and repair musical instruments for the Chawanakee Unified School District band program.

  • Wasuma Elementary School - teacher Leslie Peterson: Grant will be used to pay for a muralist, paint and supplies for a mural at Wasuma.

  • Chawanakee Academy - teacher Talitha Musacchio: Grant will be used to purchase copyrighted books for the school library.

  • Chawanakee Academy - teacher Becky Cairns: Grant will be used by school’s drama program to purchase costumes, sets, back drops and scripts.

  • Chawanakee Academy - teacher Cynthia Elm: Grant will be used to purchase ten Turing Tumble models, which help teach students how to use a computer.

  • Spring Valley Elementary School - teacher Kim Boatman: Grant will be used to cover the costs of the school’s drama and art programs, including the spring program.

  • Wasuma Elementary School - teacher Cecelia Oetinger: Grant will be used to purchase inflatable discs to help teach balance.

  • Chawanakee Academy - teacher Heather Rossen: Grant will be used to purchase supplies to hatch trout in the classroom and release them into the environment.

  • Chawanakee Academy - teacher Ivonne Trejo: Grant will be used to purchase a tetherball set for home schooled students.

  • Coarsegold Elementary School - teacher Mindy Gresham: Grant will be used to purchase kinesthetic learning materials.

  • Chawanakee Academy - teacher Rhonda Corippo: Grant will be used to purchase two STEM kits.

  • Rivergold Elementary School - teacher Robert Martin: Grant will be used to purchase PocketLab data equipment used for activities and experiments related to velocity and acceleration.

  • Chawanakee Academy - teacher Nicole De Maio: Grant will be used to purchase littleBits educational options.

  • Mountain Home School - teacher Joyce Vind: Grant will be used to purchase 10 sets of RightStart Math to reinforce fundamental math concepts.

  • Wasuma Elementary School - teacher Elaine Alger: Grant will be used to purchase three sets of eight Boomwhackers with CDs and lesson books to teach an introduction to music.