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WVPEC, Benedum Foundation announce first statewide Teacher Innovation recipients

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Public Education Collaborative, housed at West Virginia University, and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation will directly respond to teachers who are passionate about pursuing innovation in the classroom, but often struggle to find the funding and resources to creatively innovate, inform and inspire their students.

Through competitive mini-grants, the new West Virginia Teacher Innovation program will financially support some of the state’s most creative classroom teachers by providing up to $4,000 to fund their multidisciplinary learning projects. 

WVPEC Executive Director Donna Hoylman Peduto explained the program launched in response to a teacher listening tour conducted by the Benedum Foundation and facilitated by The EdVenture Group, Inc. 

“We wanted to receive insights directly from the field to learn about teachers’ concerns and needs,” Hoylman Peduto said. “The overwhelming response called for teacher-led innovation to help spark students’ enthusiasm and interest. Our hope is that these mini-grants provide teachers with the resources they need to bring creative learning experiences into their classrooms while continuing to positively impact students.”

After receiving 198 applications from educators across West Virginia, a team of education experts selected 23 unique projects to pilot during the 2023-24 academic year. 

While projects focus on one of five categories — STEAM, Career and Technical Education, Family Engagement, English Language Arts and Special Education — they will fuel inspirational learning in different ways.

Middle school students in Monongalia County will pilot drones and compete in aerial competitions through teamwork and coding. Randolph County fourth graders will create a podcast for their school and local community, while other students will take to the outdoors to care for beehives and chickens. And in the business world, Lincoln County students will explore careers in broadcast journalism while fourth and fifth graders from Ohio County will use 3D prototypes to help local businesses solve problems. 

Varying in approach and resolve, each project will target high-need populations, span multiple disciplines, exhibit real-world experiences, expose career pathways and demonstrate sustainability beyond the funding cycle.

“These grants afford teachers the opportunity to introduce new teaching strategies and materials into the classroom to ultimately help improve academic outcomes and promote equitable learning,” Benedum Foundation Senior Program Officer Melanie Claxton said. “We are eager to see these projects in action and solicit innovative ideas that can be shared with other teachers to possibly scale best practices and new approaches to creative learning.”

Projects will be funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and overseen by the WVPEC. These awards will be administered through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and oversees private donations on behalf of the University.

Find more information about the program and see all the selected innovation projects.

Communications Director and Marketing Strategist
WVU Office of the Provost
315-256-8509; [email protected]

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