BTCF Blog | Enhancing Education for 20 Years

BTCF Blog

Enhancing Education for 20 Years

By Darryl Gangloff / April 29, 2019 / Educational Attainment, Grantee Spotlight
Enhancing Education for 20 Years

For two decades, students in the Taconic Hills Central School District have participated in enriching programs thanks to the hard work of volunteer grantmaking committees and the generosity of donors. Two funds of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation award annual grants for projects that help students gain knowledge and skills through innovative and creative learning opportunities.

The Taconic Hills Education Enrichment Fund, also called the E-Fund, is celebrating 20 years of enhancing the educational experience in the school district. It was established in April 1999 to support activities in an array of disciplines, including math and science.

In 2008, the district launched the Taconic Hills Arts and Humanities Fund to complement the E-Fund and increase students’ access to the arts, music, culture, media and more. The Ellsworth Kelly Foundation played an instrumental role through gifts that built permanent endowments for arts and humanities funds in six public school districts in Columbia County.

To date, both funds have granted a combined total of more than $200,000 to Taconic Hills initiatives, ranging from field trips and school clubs to theatrical performances and professional training.

The projects supported by these two funds have touched the lives of thousands of students over the years “to widen their view and create paths to careers and greater empathy,” said Nancy Rutter, chair of the Arts and Humanities Fund.

RIOULT Dance NY’s residency has been a staple at the school for nearly a decade with support from the Arts and Humanities Fund. Teaching artists from the New York City-based dance company lead workshop sessions with young Taconic Hills students, culminating in a dance recital in the school’s performing arts center.

“Imagine the wonder and awe in a sixth-grader who has never been to a live performance and now gets to act and dance in one at the school,” Rutter said. “The majority of the students can only experience these special events because of the funding provided by the Taconic Hills Arts and Humanities Fund.”

The E-Fund supplied grants for scientific research expeditions to the Caribbean, giving high school students the opportunity to travel during their summer break and experience other cultures. They recorded the biodiversity of land and aquatic ecosystems, learned about the volcanic origin of Dominica and examined invasive species. Upon their return, they spoke with younger students in the elementary school about the importance of rainforests to share their knowledge with the Taconic Hills community.

Joseph Guilian participated in one of these Caribbean trips, and now he studies arachnids as a junior at Cornell University. “Scientific research and the style of learning it offers is incredibly essential to developing great, lifelong learners, no matter which area of study they are interested in,” he said.

The list of projects supported by these funds is extensive. For example, students have performed short plays during the annual Fall Festival of Shakespeare; discussed conservation and environmental science at the Bronz Zoo; learned about humanely coexisting  with animals as part of the Animal Kindness Club; practiced the sport of fencing with the Fencing Club; created clothing for a fashion show; attended a model United Nations conference; examined geography and history during a Hudson River cruise; discovered the dangers of cyberbullying during a performance at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center; and decompressed in the school’s Therapeutic Art and Mindfulness Center if they felt emotionally overwhelmed.

Students, school personnel and community members are invited to apply for funding for projects that enrich the experience of all students in the Taconic Hills Central School District. Apply online for both the Taconic Hills Arts and Humanities Fund and the Taconic Hills Education Enrichment Fund by Sept. 15.

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