EdExplore inspires a love of learning

EdExplore inspires a love of learning

Posted on February 19, 2013 by Susan Scott

Wonderful things are happening in our schools in Sarasota County through the generosity of our community. Our children are learning and loving it!

An entire class of wide-eyed second graders experience the grand paintings at the Ringling Museum, touch a sting ray at Mote Marine, and enjoy a nature walk through Selby Gardens. Fifth-graders laugh uncontrollably at the antics of the clowns visiting their classroom. A curious and very interested group of kids stroll through the Embracing Our Differences exhibits.

These are just a few of the amazing educational experiences designed to inspire a love of learning, that are fun, interesting and hands-on. How do teachers know about and afford these experiences for their students?

Sarasota County enjoys a wealth of artistic, scientific, historical and environmental resources but thousands of local children have never seen a play, heard an orchestra, visited an aquarium, toured a museum or explored a nature park. Teachers try to incorporate these experiences into their classes but often do not know what opportunities

or resources are available.

When I joined the Education Foundation over a year ago, it was very exciting to learn of EdExploreSRQ.com, created in 2010 to connect classrooms with the community’s cultural and natural treasures. A valuable website where organizations and teaching artists post their learning adventures and where teachers, parents, grandparents—anyone—have access to a rich array of “explorations” that support what is being taught in the classroom.

One way teachers are able to provide these rich learning experiences is through Explorations, a classroom grant program of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. Made possible by a generous and caring community and matching

funds from The Patterson Foundation, Exploration grants from the Education  Foundation  fund experiences from EdExploreSRQ.com. Teachers apply for grants, community members read and score proposals, and donors make wonderful gifts most of them qualifying for a match from The Patterson Foundation.

This year nearly 7,000 students will have the hands-on, exciting experiences of EdExploreSRQ.com that were funded by Exploration grants. They will take educational field trips to Mote Marine, Ringling Museum, Historical Spanish Point, and Selby Gardens to name a few. They will attend performances at the Van Wezel, Sarasota Orchestra and the Asolo Theater. They will participate in workshops at Florida Studio Theatre. They will experience teaching artists and scientists in the classrooms, video conferences and more.

Since the first grants were awarded in December 2011, nearly 14,000 students have had EdExploreSRQ.com experiences funded by Exploration grants. Over 300 community volunteers have read grants and thousands of dollars of gifts from generous donors and matching funds from The Patterson Foundation have been received.

This is truly an amazing community effort that has touched the lives of so many children, inspiring curiosity and a love of learning. I hope you will join us and learn more about how you can help make more Exploration Grants a reality. Contact me anytime susan@edfoundation.net . I’d love to hear from you!


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