BVH gains funds for Project-Based Learning

Students+in+Earth+Science+and+Environmental+Biology+teacher+Adrienne+Marriotts+fifth+period+Earth+Science+class+work+on+a+lab.+They+are+split+into+groups+and+assigned+to+a+lab+station.+Marriott+visited+each+station+to+guide+her+students.

Eiffel Sunga

Students in Earth Science and Environmental Biology teacher Adrienne Marriott’s fifth period Earth Science class work on a lab. They are split into groups and assigned to a lab station. Marriott visited each station to guide her students.

The Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) sent an email on Oct. 11, letting Bonita Vista High (BVH) Principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D, know of the grant that would be used to fund Project-Based Learning (PBL). PBL is a type of learning that allows students to physically interact with what they are learning at school. On Oct. 15, BVH teachers submitted a proposal to the SUHSD and successfully earned around 72,693 to 82,974 dollars, according to the official proposed budget.

According to Del Rosario, several teachers including Earth Science and Environmental Biology teacher Adrienne Marriott spent four days creating the proposal. The proposal was created to earn the SUHSD a grant for BVH and in order to start training teachers for PBL.

“I think they [the teachers who created the proposal] did a really good job, Ms. Marriott in particular, of being able to—in a short timeframe—submit a proposal that had a lot of staff supporting it,” Del Rosario said.

After receiving the email from the district, Del Rosario contacted teachers who were interested in creating a proposal. Marriott immediately responded explaining she was interested in applying and asked if anyone wanted to join her in making the proposal.

“Before I was a teacher, I wrote grants. So I had some experience. There were 11 staff members who said, ‘Yes, I’d like to be involved.’ Then I put together a proposal that would involve some training for our staff, as well as some funding for supplies for projects and submitted it to the district,” Marriott said. “Luckily, it was successful. And I finished it, it was stressful within the four days.” 

According to Special Assignment teacher (Before and After School Programs) Cesar Fernandez, the two million dollars the SUHSD received for this grant is going to be used to help train teachers to start PBL. 

“The district has received over 170 or 180 million dollars in one-time money but it has to be spent in certain ways,” Fernandez said. “One of the ways is that they set aside what’s called seed money. Seed money is when you’re building something brand new.”

According to Fernandez, the grant that will fund PBL is going to be the district’s “seed money”. The money will be used to help train teachers to start using PBL during lessons and get students off-campus and into nature.

Project-Based Learning allows the students to look at what is going on around them in the community in their school, and choose a project or a problem that they want to solve.”

— Cesar Fernandez

“Project-Based Learning allows the students to look at what is going on around them in the community in their school, and choose a project or a problem that they want to solve. From there you can decide, or at least the school decides what disciplines are involved,” Fernandez said.

Although the grant will be spent on PBL, not every student will experience or be affected by it. It is something new to the SUHSD and as teachers get used to this style of teaching, it will slowly spread through the school and district.

“The idea is that we support it [Project- Based Learning], even though it’s kind of a narrow focus, it’s not all the teachers and it’s not all the students. We [might] have positive outcomes that could be [reflected on], and [we can] try to expand [it] so that it benefits more students,” Del Rosario said.

According to Del Rosario, Marriott and the other teachers involved in the process of creating the proposal were all very committed to submitting it in such a short time span. Additionally, he states that the proposal is something great to be shown by our school staff.

“I think it’s something that we should be proud of, that there are teachers who are willing to jump up and try something new if they think it’s going to help students. That’s a very good culture to have at school,” Del Rosario said.