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Teachers Earn Grants from PEFCA, the Public Education Foundation of Charlottesville-Albemarle

Posted Date: 1/26/24 (9:55 AM)

Collage of images showing the grants (soccer, bird, audio books, nature area, Broadway, and economics)Images above show the focus areas of the Charlottesville teachers' grants: after-school soccer at Jackson-Via, a nature/birding learning experience at Jackson-Via, enhanced audio book resources at Jackson-Via, a green oasis at CHS, math resources at Johnson, Broadway experiences for Buford, classroom economics at Walker.

Teachers Earn Grants from PEFCA, the Public Education Foundation of Charlottesville-Albemarle

The non-profit Public Education Foundation of Charlottesville-Albemarle (PEFCA) awarded teacher innovation grants to support fifteen classroom projects in Albemarle County Public Schools and Charlottesville City Schools in 2024. With a funding range from a few hundred dollars to a top-level of $4,500, these grants will impact nearly 4,000 students in specific classrooms or programs. Please join us in congratulating the following teachers and in giving thanks to the PEFCA for supporting education in our area.

List of Charlottesville City Schools Projects:

Buford Middle School
Teacher: Paula Chanda
National Youth Theatre Experience (NYTE)

The NYTE brings students together from all across the nation to celebrate musical theatre and to learn from the technical elements of theatre from professionals. Students will have an opportunity to perform monologues and solos and receive feedback from Broadway actors. They will attend workshops in acting, singing and dance. Some students will attend technical theatre workshops where they will gain hands-on experience running tech for a performance.

Charlottesville High School
Teacher: Samantha Pagni
The Oasis Project

Educational environments impact students’ emotions, brains and potential for learning. CHS has galvanized the community, mental health workers, master gardeners, builders, UVA’s Contemplative Sciences Center, parents and teachers to design and build a green space oasis within the school courtyard. Students and teachers will be able to study, rest, and enjoy brief respites during the day, as well as engage in the design and development, as well as creative placemaking, that promote belonging and engagement.

Jackson-Via Elementary School
Teacher: Sabra Timmins
Crossing the Line: An After-School Soccer Club for Building Inclusive Communities

This project uses soccer as a social and emotional learning experience for students from all backgrounds, nationalities, and cultures. Team sports help children develop physical skills, get exercise, make friends, have fun, learn to play fair, spark curiosity, and improve self-esteem.
Children gain character-building through teamwork. Bridging diverse backgrounds, the program intentionally caters to low-income and multilingual families, promoting inclusivity.

Jackson-Via Elementary School
Teacher: Sabra Timmins
Wild Wisdom: Unlocking Learning & Well-being Through Nature’s Classroom

This project utilizes the use of greenspace with nature-loving projects for all students. Bird feeders, bird baths and benches are just the beginning of this experiential project. Sensory experiences can stimulate brain development and improve sensory processing. The space would be used for hands-on learning opportunities exploring topics such as natural habitats, migration, and adaptation by various species right “in our own backyard.” The courtyard space will provide a space for learning all subject matter taught and can be a place for thinking and relaxation.

Jackson-Via Elementary School
Teacher: Jessica Pedersen
Learning Through a Listening Library

This project offers increased accessibility to reading. If a child is unable to read the VOX book is a game changer. There will no longer be a barrier to these children enjoying books. The goal of the Listening Library is to provide VOX books in 4 different categories. A VOX book is a hardcover book with an audio book player attached. Multiple students can listen at the same time. This project improves access for our English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and emerging readers.

Johnson Elementary School
Teacher: Michelle Schettler
ST Math for English Language Learner Mathematical Equality
A project to reinforce English Language Learners (ELL) with the visual program ST Math. English Language Learners deserve to use their technology time to build math skills instead of becoming frustrated with the language barrier that ultimately hinders their learning abilities. STMath was piloted successfully last year. ELL students who once shut down, became emotional and withdrew showed improvement with ST Math.

Walker Upper Elementary School
Teacher: Amy Wissekerke
Classroom Economics for 6th Grade
How to save and budget, apply math skills to a real-world decision, and learning fiscal responsibility is the focus of this project. Students earn “class cash” for completing classroom jobs and for meeting and exceeding classroom goals. This year they will learn about investing in the stock market. This is a fun way to learn to manage money and time.

About the Public Education Foundation of Charlottesville-Albemarle

Through our passion for public education, PEFCA supports 17,000 students in Albemarle County and Charlottesville to grow and thrive in all academic disciplines by providing resources and opportunities with the help of the community and local businesses.

We are a high-impact foundation, committed to building programs that will transform education in our community and provide a model for school systems across the nation. Visit our website for more information at