MILL HALL — At the end of the last school year, the Keystone Central Foundation donated over $50,000 to CMMS and Renovo Elementary to update the libraries into more forward-thinking makerspaces.
At CMMS, this helped to fund not only new furniture in the library but also new equipment in the classroom. This equipment included: 3-D printers, new tables and chairs, storage bins and cabinets and the various supplies needed to make the teachers’ Science, Technology, Engineered, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) lessons a reality.
The donations were a part of a special PA Tax Incentive program called EITC, which allows local businesses (Woodlands Bank, UPMC, Weis, etc.) to donate to these special projects and receive a tax break.
Melissa Bottorf — Executive Director of KCF — explained, “PA department of economic and community development does this program where businesses can apply. We are lucky to have between six to eight local businesses choose the KCF for their project. Those businesses, in the first year they donate they get a 75% tax break on the amount they give to us. If they do it in year two, they get a 90% tax break.”
Dave Peters — Principal at CMMS — gave the board a tour of the new makerspaces the KCF helped fund.
The first stop on the tour was Luke Herron’s classroom. He is the technology education instructor at CMMS but is also the department program leader for the entire district.
Housed in Herron’s room were the 3-D printers that students can use to create projects that they’ll be able to take home for free. Outside in the hallway was a showcase of student projects — both from the 3-D printer and from the shop class that Herron also teaches.
The tour moved on to Renee Serafini’s classroom. Serafini is the school’s full time STEAM teacher, but the school also has a second STEAM teacher — Michelle Marasco — who is at CMMS every other day.
The tables were the newest addition to Serafini’s classroom. They have cords and plugs for phones and computers. The tables are on wheels so that they can be more easily maneuvered through the classroom.
Another feature of the classroom was a cabinet filled with drones. “(Serafini) takes the kids outside and they learn to program the drones,” said Peters. “Last year she did a basic coding class where they learned to program and created their own race track. They also did a parade for us. They programmed their own mini-parade floats and paraded them down the hallway for us.”
Peters was thankful to the board for their contribution to the school, “It gives so many new opportunities to both the kids and the teachers.”
There are still big plans for what the KCF will do next. Schools around the district still have wishlists that they hope to pursue.
“We’re trying to focus on the music and the arts as our next round,” Bottorf said. “At the elementary level we can fund galaxy in the classroom, which is kind of art related! Last year we used one of those mini-grants to purchase ukeleles for the music program at Robb Elementary.”