By Art Haddaway

Warm hugs, big smiles and loud cheers spread across Owasso Public Schools on Friday.

Members of Owasso Education Foundation’s Grant Patrol made their way across the district to distribute over $62,300 in funds to local educators as part of their annual Grants for Teachers initiative.

The program, started in 1990, gives teachers an opportunity to submit grant proposals each year for creative ideas they would like to use in the classroom. This helps support excellence in OPS by giving them money for projects that may otherwise go unfunded.

This year, OEF distributed 45 grants to 12 campuses, starting with Owasso High School in the morning and ending at Morrow Elementary in the afternoon.

OHS received the most grants at nine totaling $13,766, and Morrow Elementary received the most funds at $16,368 with six grants. The funding, as in year’s past, will go toward various areas such as STEM supplies and computer programming.

“It’s just investing in our youth here and the community; it’s the right thing to do,” Shannon Ruesch, OEF Grant Allocation Committee chair, told the Owasso Reporter. “Having a strong school system is important for everybody.”

Recipients like Stone Canyon Elementary music teacher Kim Russell will use $800 for her project, “Music to My Ears,” and Owasso 8th Grade Center physical science teacher Julia Argo will use $445 for her project, “Mastering Density!”

“My students with autism absolutely love music and can be therapeutic to them,” Russell said in her grant application. “Since we only attend music every third day for specials, I would like to have musical instruments available for them to play/engage in on a daily basis.”

Argo added, “With density cube sets, students will get hands-on experience working with and identifying materials with varying density in a science lab setting. This fundamental skill can be used in all future science classes, and is essential for understanding chemistry and physics concepts.”

Other recipients included Ashley Berner, a speech pathologist at Barnes Elementary, who received $1,100 for special education materials; Brigette Mangrum, a reading interventionist at Morrow Elementary, who received $2,560 to build a leveled library; and Stacey Eby, a third-grade teacher at Ator Elementary, who received $1,949 for a set of programming robots.

The grants handed out on Friday were made possibly through the funds raised at OEF’s annual fundraisers, the Patriot Classic Golf Tournament in May and the Holiday Home Tour in December, as well as other private donations.

For more information about OEF or how to contribute to its fundraising efforts, call 918-272-5367.