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PIE fall fundraising

Vashon Partners in Education (lovingly known as P.I.E), will kick off its fall fundraising campaign in October.  Teachers across the school district are busy dreaming about how they can make our children’s learning experience rich and exciting.  And thanks to P.I.E. they can dream big!

In this time, when education is not fully funded (even with a Supreme Court mandate to do so) it is difficult for teachers to provide learning opportunities that encourage imagination and critical thinking, to enable children to think outside the box.  We want our children to use their academic skills not as an end to pass state standardized tests but to love learning.  Students learn best through integrated, hands on, inquiry-based lessons.  That is a fact.  Teachers work hard to create lifelong learners with the long view that their students will be able to give back to their community and beyond.

I have been a teacher for 35 years, the last 23 years in the Vashon Island School District.  I immediately was thrilled when realizing the impact this community had on our children’s education.  What a wonderful partnership. When I stop to think about all the support from this community, I am filled with gratitude.  The many island artists, naturalists, scientists, gardeners, authors, historians, environmentalists, musicians, parents and generous organizations such as P.I.E. help create an atmosphere where children learn from an early age the meaning of community.  They learn by example.  Isn’t that really what’s important, to learn to give of yourself because much has been given to you?  Pass it on.

The multiage program, of which I was a part, benefited from many P.I.E. grants.  Here are just a few.

The Chautauqua Kids Garden has been supported by P.I.E. since its inception.  Authentic learning happens here.  In the garden, math isn’t a subject but a tool to collect or analyze information.  Writing isn’t done in a vacuum but speaks to the heart of what kids are passionate about.  Through their writing the children were awarded a greenhouse from King 5 and the Potato Council.  Reading isn’t just done at “reading time” but is performed to seek information, develop knowledge and new ideas.  They learn about the solar energy which runs our irrigation system, Mason bees that pollinate their plants, and what it means to have healthy living soil.  They raise and sell beautiful pumpkins by working together so that they are able to give to local and worldwide needs.  They learn that they can make a difference. They were named “Earth Heroes” by King County for their environmental stewardship. Without P.I.E.’s support to get our garden off the ground none of this would have been possible.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Another P.I.E. grant funded a giant, outdoor chess set.  During free choice times, chess sets are a sought-after item. Why not continue the enthusiasm outside?  Chess significantly improves children’s visual memory, attention span and spatial reasoning.  In order to play you have to focus.  Lose your focus—lose your piece.  Chess requires decoding, thinking, comprehension, and analysis.  It helps children become “if—then” thinkers.  And chess is just plain fun.

P.I.E. also supported a Fern Cove exploration with necessary tools and scientists to learn about our incredible watershed.  The children investigate what it means to have healthy streams.  They search for signs of animal habitats.  They learn what makes a good habitat for different animals, what would be their food and water source, what would make a good shelter, and how all this works in balance.  They hone their beach observation skills using the Beaufort wind scale.  They use compasses and thermometers.  They collect and record data of their findings for further discussion.  They look at the health of intertidal animals.  The children write poems and paint pictures.  They fall in love and care for their home.

P.I.E. grants inspire students and their teachers alike.  They add such great on-going learning opportunities.  I encourage you to visit their webpage at and see the multitude of grants that have been given to all 3 schools.  In their 29 years, they have awarded 1 million dollars in grants.  Vashon children thrive in this giving community.

The P.I.E phonathon is October 11, 12, and 13.  When you receive the call, please consider giving and being a part of this generous community.  Donations cannot be too small or too large.
Thank you for making my teaching career so fulfilling.