At RPCS, Summer Grants Empower Teachers to Dream Big for their Students

At RPCS, Summer Grants Empower Teachers to Dream Big for their Students

At Roland Park Country School, we pride ourselves on being a school where our students empower each other. We also realize that empowering students begins with teachers.

Each summer, intersession grants are awarded by RPCS and financed by the school’s Annual Fund and operating budget that empower teachers to rethink their curricula. These grants directly impact the student experience by allowing teachers to delve into projects that go above and beyond the curricular work that is expected of them during the summer months. Grants are usually collaborative in nature and support established school initiatives. With this annual support, our teachers are able to dream big and build a better future for our students.

Here’s a glimpse into how our Middle School faculty have utilized their summer grant this year:

This spring, all Middle School students will take a weeklong break from their usual schedule to participate in a new and intensive five-day learning experience called Spark. Students will be able to choose from 23 course offerings to immerse themselves in topics ranging from robotics, journalism and public speaking, to personal finance, leadership and Chinese culture. Spark taps into the intrinsic curiosity of children in early adolescence to provide new and valuable educational opportunities that will promote skill development, encourage community engagement and “spark” independent, lifelong discovery.  

“Summer grants allow us to grow as a grade and a division,” said Beth Venn, the world languages department head in the Middle School and recipient of two grants in 2018. “Throughout the school year, we need to focus on our own course work, but these grants give us the chance to be more collaborative with our peers in the summer months and do something bigger in programming to make a lasting impact on our students.”

Another grant awarded in 2018 funded a program that encourages students to learn, stretch and grow in service to others. A long-standing human rights unit in the Middle School expanded this school year to focus on the experience of refugees, provide a historical understanding of immigration and identify and process the emotional impact of these topics. The unit also aims to empower students by teaching them about government and citizenship and demonstrating how just one person can make a difference through taking small, actionable steps.

“Human Rights, Human Action has shown us new ways to view the world and help change things for the better,” said Aylin M, an 8th grader. “It has pushed me more towards wanting to get involved and doing volunteer work when I’m older to make an effort to better the world.”

In addition to introducing new lesson plans, the unit will also grow to include a service component. One of their first community engagement efforts is a pen pal program with the students at Dumbarton Middle School who are learning English as a second language to help the RPCS Middle Schoolers better understand the perspectives of people from other countries.

“We are learning about those who are less fortunate that we are, but we are also asked to take it a step further and find out what we can to do help. This unit is not about watching, but about taking action,” said 8th grader Erin H. “With some of the knowledge I have gained through this unit, I know that I will be able to look at the world through a new lens and I will be able to use my knowledge to help others.”

Additional grants awarded in 2018 focused updating the Lower School music curriculum to enhance student learning and establishing new pacing goals for precalculus classes to set up Upper School students for success before they start college. Another grant helped faculty investigate new teaching strategies to help students in the Harkness math program become more confident in their abilities. 

“Given how committed and engaged our teachers are in their daily work with our girls and young women, we know there isn’t enough time in the school day for our faculty members to delve deeper into all of their areas of interest,” said Caroline Blatti, Head of School. “With our donors’ annual support, we feel so grateful we can give our faculty the gift of time and the resources they need to bring their passion projects to life. Having once been a classroom teacher myself, I know how invaluable this time is for faculty who are continual, life-long learners.”