Grants Drive Columbiana County ESC Programs

LISBON — In 2020, the Columbiana County Educational Service Center secured grants that will push county school districts to new heights, says Superintendent Anna Marie Vaughn.

A grant through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Educational Fund will fund a water conservation and community stewardship project for Crestview Local and Southern Local Schools.

The project focuses on the endangered hellbender salamander native to Northeast Ohio, Vaughn says. Students will study current water conditions, challenges to providing a healthy water system, maintaining clean water and proper habitats for the salamander.

The Soil and Water Conservation District, Little Beaver Creek Watershed, Ohio State Extension Service and SilverApple Inc. will provide teachers with professional development on clean water and its relationship to the environment, and help incorporate STEM concepts into the curriculum. The project aligns with Ohio’s science teaching standards and reinforces problem-based, 21st century, hands-on learning.

To address obstacles faced by rural, remote learners, a grant from Philanthropy Ohio and the Ohio Department of Education through the Collaborative Fund for Educating Remotely and Transforming Schools provides teachers with monthly virtual meetings with educational book authors from January through March.

Books being discussed include “Tech Like a Pirate” by Matt Miller, “Bold School” by Weston Kieschnick, and “If the Dance Floor is Empty, Change the Song” by Dr. Joe Clark.

“Small districts don’t get as much attention when it comes to hearing from big name authors,” says Marie Williams, ESC curriculum director. “Often this is more of an urban focus.”

A portion of the grant will fund the One Book, One Community Idea pilot, Vaughn says. The program brings together seniors, teachers and businesses in a book study-like format to discuss ways to enhance classroom education by listening to input from a variety of age demographics and experiences.

The ESC also received a technology grant through Ohio’s allocation of federal Cares Act dollars to provide hotspots and 30 Samsung Plus Chromebooks for students in the county. The Chromebooks have cellular internet service built in, benefiting students who don’t have internet at home, says Joe Warchol, ESC technology director.