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Straight A funds awarded

Alissa Widman Neese • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Many consider the Lake Erie Islands an ideal location for a relaxing summer getaway. With assistance from state funding, Kelleys Island will soon transform into a premier education destination.

Kelleys Island School secured a highly competitive Straight A Fund grant from the Ohio Department of Education on Friday. It was one of only 24 grant proposals selected statewide for funding.

The school will receive $525,000, which will be divided among it and nine other partner schools across the state.

The funding will allow teachers and students from those schools to travel to Kelleys Island School’s already existing outdoor learning laboratory, the Lake Erie Field Station. After participating in hands-on projects for a week, they’ll then build their own learning laboratories back home, likely in fall 2014.

The proposal — Kelleys Island STEM Outdoor Innovation Labs, abbreviated “SOIL” — will receive final state approval Monday.

It will provide students with valuable learning experiences and teachers with professional development opportunities, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, or “STEM,” Kelleys Island School board president Pete Legere said.

“We’re essentially becoming trainers and showing them a model to develop around the state,” Legere said. “We want them to emulate what we’ve already been doing, using their own community and local assets to develop outdoor learning labs and encourage problem-based learning”

Although Kelleys Island School has an active school board, it does not have enough students to currently sustain traditional K-12 school activity.

Its primary endeavor is the Lake Erie Field Station, which operates a popular residential STEM program for students in June. The Straight A Fund grant will also expand the annual three-week summer program.

Kelleys Island School is the only area school that received a Straight A Fund grant this year.

The state grants — $100 million to be awarded this year and $150 million next year — aimed to encourage innovation in Ohio schools with creative, forward-thinking ideas.

More than 400 districts applied for the program, including 11 locally.

The entire list of Straight A Fund grant winners is posted below

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