By Adam Young

White Pine Schools Superintendent

The mornings are crisp and cool, the sun is setting earlier in the evening, and football is back on the television! These conditions can only mean that it’s time for school to start again.

White Pine County School District students returned to their classrooms last Wednesday to enthusiastic and energetic teachers. After a spring and summer of difficult budget discussions, students are returning to even greater opportunities, thanks to the efforts of school district officials who have spent time applying for nearly every state grant available, all with the objective of maximizing resources devoted to student learning.

Literacy Coordinator Rolayne Hanson facilitated the district’s Read by Grade Three grant, which provides more than $320,000 focused on providing extra instruction for struggling readers in order to meet the legislature’s new requirements for literacy. Students have opportunities before school, after school, and on Fridays to get help with learning how to read. Additionally, the grant funds Hanson’s position and another district-wide specialist. Both of these positions are designed to provide coaching and support to teachers as they work to become experts in the field of literacy instruction.

White Pine Middle School staff organized and applied for the Nevada Ready 21 grant, which provides more than $300,000 for an infusion of technology for the district’s students in grades six through eight. As a result, students will have Chromebooks assigned to them for school and home use for the school year. Governor Brian Sandoval is a proponent of increasing technology in the state’s schools, and WPMS staff members have embraced this vision and worked to create learning opportunities that are unique and tailored to each student’ learning needs.

At the high school level, the College and Career Readiness grant provides nearly $200,000 in extra resources for students and teachers. White Pine High School’s Advanced Placement program (English Literature and Composition) benefits by receiving brand new Chromebooks and resources specifically devoted to AP instruction. Additionally, secondary students now have two new classes to choose from: STEM Physics, and STEM Careers. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is another statewide initiative. Students in STEM classes learn by doing. This grant also allows for a district-wide STEM coach, who helps all secondary teachers learn how to integrate STEM content and methodologies into their classrooms. The College and Career Readiness grant also provides for support and mentoring for high school students who are taking dual credit college courses as well as students who might need extra help mastering regular high school content. This support will be available most Fridays and prove very advantageous both for struggling and excelling students.

Also at WPHS, the Career and Technical Education competitive grant completely funds a brand new Diesel Technology program and three new technology programs (IT Tech and Support, Computer Science, and Web Design and Development) to the tune of nearly $200,000. These classes allow students opportunities which are new and aligned with the Nevada’s objective to produce students who are ready for the workforce or college upon graduation.

One last program designed to focus on increasing the skill set of current and future educators is the Great Teachers and Leaders Fund. Nearly $200,000 flows into the district through this grant, the purpose of which is to mentor brand new teachers, inspire future teachers who are currently students, and increase leadership capacity among teachers and administrators. Current high school students who are thinking about becoming teachers are able to take a class through this grant which exposes them to the field of education as a profession.

Outstanding teachers make an immeasurable difference in students’ learning both academically and socially and this grant provides resources to increase the effectiveness of the district’s hard working professionals.

Regarding how these grants impact the district as a whole, superintendent Adam Young notes, “The staff has done a tremendous job in securing these grants and the increased opportunities provided through the grants are going to really benefit students as the year progresses. Grants must be used only for the purposes specified, so unfortunately these grants don’t do much to contribute towards maintaining the programs the district runs through the general fund. So even though these great opportunities will come through grant funding, the district will continue to struggle with having enough funding to keep other programs going.”