There may be snow on the ground and holiday jingles playing over the loudspeaker at the grocery store, but for some Calgary schools it’s beginning to look like a lot like Christmas for a different reason.

Each fall, educators in the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) apply for funding through EducationMatters to create projects and initiatives that support student success and to enhance the educational opportunities available to our students.

We are excited to announce that the recipient schools for this year’s grants have been selected and many schools are unwrapping an early Christmas gift this year thanks to generous donors in our city. Here are just a few of the innovative projects that received funding in 2018: we can’t wait to see their donors’ investments in action in 2019.

Forest Lawn High School: Family Literacy Nights

The most powerful learning happens when students and families learn together. To encourage family learning, Forest Lawn High School is launching a monthly literacy night for students and their families. Each night will be themed and will offer a light dinner and a presentation, as well as games and activities to develop literacy skills. The program aims to increase family and community involvement with the school and to help families build their literacy skills together. Funds from EducationMatters donors will help to cover the costs of: bus passes to get families to the school, food, and literacy resources, as well as games and craft supplies.

Deer Run Elementary School: Deer Run Bot Builders

The Deer Run Bot Builders program is aiming to ‘crack the code’ and encourage girls to engage with technology-based projects and learning at a young age. Girls in grades 1-6 will use coding languages and robotics tools to build their skills in construction and programming to design robots that will complete a variety of tasks. The program will work to engage girls in science, technology, engineering, and math projects with the aim of starting them on a path of lifelong learning and curiosity in these fields. Funds provided by EducationMatters donors will help to purchase coding tools, robotics, Lego, and iPads for girls to explore.

Cedarbrae School: Cedarbrae Connects Land Based Learning

In an effort to be a leader on recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Cedarbrae School is getting its students out for lessons on the land this year. The program will help students build connections with the land and their communities through visits to outdoor locations around Calgary. The visits will be guided by Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers, which will help embed Indigenous ways of knowing into the curriculum. As a school with a large population of Indigenous students, the program will serve as an opportunity to recognize and celebrate Indigenous culture, as well as an opportunity to foster stronger relationships between Indigenous and non-indigenous students.

Falconridge School: Windows to our World

The Windows to Our World project at Falconridge School is about giving students from all backgrounds a voice, while creating opportunities to build connections and understanding between different cultures. Funding from EducationMatters donors will help to purchase cameras, iPads, and photo printing supplies. During the school year, students will be sent home with a camera for a week to capture an image that best highlights what their culture is to them. Photographs will be printed and posted alongside a write up, written in English and other languages, in a central location in the school. Students in the school will be encouraged to use iPad translation apps to read and understand exactly why the student felt their image provided a glimpse into their culture.

Calgary Board of Education: Mindfuel Career and Technology Foundations Accelerator Program

The worlds of rapid prototyping and 3D-printing are growing quickly. These exciting technologies encourage creativity and promote learning through trial and error. Teachers in grades 5-9 who are interested in learning more about designing tasks that leverage these technologies, encourage creativity, and prepare students for the careers of tomorrow are participating in a semester long program to develop competencies and explore new and innovative ways of teaching. In partnership with Mindfuel, teachers will complete the program with the supporting materials, guiding questions, and connections to the community experts they need to design effective programming to teach this exciting new way of creating and building.

These are just a few examples of the innovative projects donors are making possible this year. Schools from all quadrants of Calgary applied for grant funding to help support vulnerable students, improve literacy, create science, technology, engineering, arts, and math opportunities (STEAM), and encourage career and life skills development. With so many worthy applications, the volunteers tasked with distributing grant funds had their work cut out for them. As we move forward into 2019, we will be watching as these projects launch and are excited to see the smiles, curiosity, and learning develop.