Teacher wins $25,000 grant
By Rebecca Rider
CLEVELAND — Just a few months ago, Lynn Bradley thought she didn’t have a chance.
Bradley, a tech facilitator at Cleveland Elementary, had one of her fundraising projects on Donorschoose.org picked up by Tom’s of Maine as part of its “Green Your School” fund. Teachers across the country were tasked with submitting classroom projects that teach kids to care for the planet and to learn about pressing environmental issues in their community like air and water quality and sustainable agriculture.
The winner, picked by popular vote, would be awarded a $25,000 grant. Bradley’s project was one of the contest’s top 10 finalists.
Bradley said she was sure that her project wouldn’t make it. It was up against projects from schools in places like Memphis, Florida and California. Rowan County — and Cleveland — were just too small, she thought. And she was content with the $2,000 she would win automatically as a finalist. It was just enough to cover the proposed hydroponics project.
But the votes are in, and the numbers speak for themselves: voters from across the nation chose Bradley, the company reported Monday.
“I was in awe,” she said.
Bradley said the community support she’s received during the months-long voting process is “jaw-dropping,” and said the win is thanks to the dedicated community members who voted for the project over and over again.
“It’s thanks to all the people that were just religiously voting every day,” she said.
While Bradley’s hydroponics project is already underway thanks to a grant from Lowe’s, she still needs solar cells, seeds and fish to create a closed system. Her proposal also included weather-testing instruments.
With the money from the Tom’s of Maine grant, she’ll finish both projects, and is toying with a few other ideas. The school needs a fully-stocked makerspace, for example, and the engineering and robotics corner of Bradley’s classroom could use some rounding out — she’d also like to provide students with supplies for art and music, buy a pottery wheel for the school or give students the ability to freeze dry produce from the hydroponics station.
“There’s endless possibilities,” she said.
Bradley said she plans to share her good fortune with the rest of the school, and try to fill as many needs as possible. The $25,000 grant makes approximately $65,000 Bradley has raised in her three years as a technology facilitator — and her work is far from over.
“I’m not going to stop writing,” she said of submitting grants.
Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.
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