MOUNT CARMEL — “Water’s Cool” but not as cool as four Mount Carmel Elementary teachers who used rhythm and rhyme to help earn their school a new water bottle filling station, as well as a top 10 bonus.
Earlier this week Delta Dental of Tennessee announced the 55 recipients of its Water’s Cool @ School grant to replace older water fountains with new Elkay bottle filling stations.
Among the winners were Hawkins County’s Mount Carmel Elementary and Carters Valley Elementary.
However, Mount Carmel’s foursome of rapping teachers elevated their grant application into the top 10, earning their school a bonus.
In addition to the Elkay bottle filling stations, all 55 grant recipients will receive toothbrushes for students, faculty and staff. The Top 10 grant recipients, including Mount Carmel, will also receive water bottles for all 274 students, as well as faculty and staff, when their bottle filling stations are installed this spring.
“The grant was for low- income schools that would be in need of a new water bottle station,” Principal Amy Glass told the Times News on Tuesday. “They requested pictures of our current water fountains, and I submitted all that. But some of our teachers created a rap video about water and the benefits of drinking water.”
Glass added, “We put the rap out on our Facebook page, and we had to do some kind of hashtag for it to be included as part of our application. Delta Dental wanted kids to do artwork (as part of the application) but we had just gone fully virtual, so we tried it out with the teachers rapping in this cute video about water, and I guess that’s what won it for us.”
Kindergarten teacher Michelle Shanks wrote the rap and was the lead singer. She was assisted by backup singers Sherry Strickler (second grade), Susie Larkins (kindergarten), and interventionist Natasha Bice.
The grant application asked for each school’s percentage of students on free and reduced lunch and the age of the water fountains.
The original section of MCES was built in 1947, and although water fountains have been replaced since then, Glass said there’s still a need for a bottled water dispenser.
“Every school in Hawkins County has one water bottle filling station, but we definitely need a second one for our students,” Glass said. “When they’re coming in from recess, or when they’re coming in from related arts or P.E., having that extra water station available is important to us. Most of them don’t come with a water bottle from home, they don’t pack their drinks, and they don’t think about that in advance.”
Glass added, “During COVID we provide water bottles for students now, but after COVID we can’t count on that. It’s important for our students to have access to a drink all day. This will let them fill their own water bottles at the station, and they’ll have the water fountain, so it will be both.”
The 55 grants are intended to help Delta Dental celebrate its 55th anniversary. Delta Dental launched the grant program last year to educate students about the benefits of drinking more water.
As part of the Water’s Cool @ School program, Delta Dental will release educational materials online in February to coincide with National Children’s Dental Health Month.
Designed for elementary school audiences, these materials will include activity sheets, sugar demonstrations, games, posters and more.
Aside from Carters Valley Elementary, other Northeast Tennessee grant recipients include Roan Creek Elementary in Mountain City and Holston View Elementary in Bristol.