Kingsport Education Foundation to offer teacher innovation grants

Rick Wagner • Jan 31, 2019 at 3:35 PM

KINGSPORT — A new education foundation for the benefit of Kingsport City Schools is moving forward with structure and framework, including plans for a website and social media presence, and officials say teachers can apply for innovation grants from the foundation for the 2019-20 school year starting this spring.

On Wednesday afternoon at the Administrative Support Center, KCS Education Foundation board members voted on a motion by Cee Gee McCord to set up the structure and framework with Jenny Kontos of Hillhouse Creative, which will have the help of KCS publications editor Marybeth McLain. The unanimous vote included a stipulation added by Lynn Johnson that the annual website and associated costs for 2020 forward will not exceed $1,000.

McCord said the total cost likely would be either around $300 or $800 a year, depending on how elaborate the work is. Board Chairman Pat Turner, who attended remotely by phone, and McCord said a 45- to 60-day period likely will be needed to get everything in place.

“I think teachers would jump on these. Within a month, you would have proposals to choose from,” Turner said.

To get the program on the map, so to speak, Superintendent Jeff Moorhouse suggested that by March or so applications for teachers to apply for the innovation grants would be ready. Jeanette Blazier said that was how the Kingsport Community Foundation started its grants.

“It gets teachers thinking about the next thing, trying to be innovative,” Moorhouse said.

The amount and number of the grants will be determined later, and the board may meet again in March.

The KCS Education Foundation is under the umbrella of the East Tennessee Foundation and associated with the Kingsport Community Foundation, Blazier said. The idea in creating the group is to make it easier for folks to give directly to a program that helps KCS students, teachers and classrooms. 

Lynn Johnson, treasurer of the foundation, said the program should steer more toward academic programs and away from things like band or athletics, which have their own booster groups.

McCord said the foundation may not want to limit itself too much, mentioning donations could be taken to pay for band students to participate in out-of-state band competitions as well as robotics teams to do the same. The foundation could refer potential donations to existing booster groups, which are nonprofit and can accept them, and Wally Boyd said such partnerships would evolve over time.

Carrie Upshaw, school board president, said the money is for enrichment, not for paper and pencils.

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