Jonesboro, Ark. – (February, 18th 2020) – The Ernest and Anna Ritter Family Endowment Fund (Ritter Endowment Fund) recently presented a $26,500 check to the Westside Elementary School’s Parent-Teacher Organization, WES PTO. The 501c3 organization plans to use the funding to add and improve social and learning activities for all Westside students from Pre-K to fourth grade.
WES PTO’s first priority is to build a multi-purpose outdoor classroom area and full-functioning greenhouse. The second priority for the organization is to supply the school with new technology for its Makerspace classroom.
Sam Hiser, President of WES PTO, says the organization is very grateful to be receiving this grant. “This grant allows us to provide Westside Elementary with resources and technology that can really take learning to a whole new level. We are so appreciative to the Ritter Endowment Fund for helping us bring these ideas to life.”
The outdoor classroom will provide students and teachers with multiple areas including a reading area, picnic tables and gardening area. The space will be surrounded by raised flower beds and sunshades will be installed to provide protection and safety for students during these outdoor sessions. The reading area, inspired by the book, Only One You, will have student-painted rocks placed in a colorful path that winds around the reading and greenhouse area.
The greenhouse will allow students to collaborate with cafeteria staff on a garden project which will give students the opportunity to grow and cultivate various fruits and vegetables for the ultimate “farm to table” experience. The project can also help supply the school’s Backpack Program with fresh, healthy food to keep the program’s students fed during weekends and school breaks.
The grant will also equip the school’s new Makerspace (STEM) classroom with technological needs such as tablets and robots. The new technology will help enhance this unique learning environment as well as challenge students to solve more complex scenarios.
Kelli Murray, Westside Elementary School Principal, says, “Speaking on behalf of everyone at Westside Elementary School, we are so thrilled to have these funds given by the Ritter Endowment Fund. This grant helps us to implement projects that offer our staff resources to make learning even more exciting. Everyone at Westside Elementary will be able to utilize and enjoy the new technology and outdoor spaces for many, many years to come and that makes me proud.”