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Education Foundation grant funds greenhouse at CCHS

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Posted: Friday, January 14, 2011 12:00 pm

By Holly Wise

The Cove Herald

A grant from the Copperas Cove Education Foundation made it possible for five teachers at Copperas Cove High School to build a greenhouse behind the school.

Construction on the greenhouse was recently completed and it won't be long before the structure is bustling with scientific activity.

Robert Cummings, a chemistry teacher and chair of the science department at the school, said the project has been four years in the making.

"I've been wanting a way to get hands-on experience out of the classroom," he said. "This is a good way to do that."

The Education Foundation granted $3,632.76 last year to teachers Cummings, Hilda Santos, Tai Alberts, Shay Adams and Suzan Falkner.

"We're very thankful to the Education Foundation for their generous grant," Alberts said.

Karen Harrison, president of the Education Foundation, said seeing the projects come to life completes the circle.

"It is exciting to give out the grants and the atmosphere is celebratory, but seeing the grants in action provides the satisfaction that the Education Foundation is making a difference," she said. "The greenhouse project has the potential to reach many students and give them hands-on experience rather than simply reading about it in a textbook."

The 52-foot-by-22-foot greenhouse will be divided in half. One portion will be used by Albert's 32 special education horticulture students to raise plants to sell to the public. The other portion will be used for botany studies, including plant genetics, cross breeding and soil testing.

Alberts' vision for her students is to give them exposure to job experience.

"We're pushing more toward career development with our special education program," she said.

Experience in the greenhouse could translate into a nursery worker certification for them.

"They're really excited to be able to talk to the public about the plants they're going to be selling," she said.

Alberts said her class will begin planting seeds in the warmth of the school next week.

Another advantage the greenhouse will provide is a seamless transition into project-based learning, Alberts said.

Cummings said his students will be recycling organic matter and will eventually catch rain coming off the sides of the greenhouse for recycling purposes.

Multiple classes were involved in the project and the teachers hope to include more students in the future.

The welding shop students made two potting tables and were recruited to help finish the construction of the greenhouse.

The three-year-old foundation's purpose is to provide additional funds to teachers with innovative teaching strategies. Last year, the foundation doled out nearly $20,000 to fund nine projects across the district. Teachers apply for the community-supported grants and must go through a selection process.

"The Education Foundation teaching grants fund classroom projects and equipment," Harrison said. "We can see where our dollars are going and know that they are directly contributing to student's experiences in the classroom."

Contact Holly Wise at hwise@kdhnews.com or (254)501-7474.

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