Windy Hill Foundation and Fauquier County Public Schools (FCPS) were awarded one of 28 grants by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) in the amount of $149,740 for the development of a 21st Century Community Learning Center. The grant money will allow Windy Hill Foundation, in partnership with FCPS, to create the Horizons program serving children who live in the Windy Hill Community in The Plains and Marshall and their neighbors who attend W.G. Coleman Elementary, Claude Thompson Elementary and Marshall Middle schools.
The VDOE 21st Century Community Learning Centers promote equitable educational opportunities for students by supporting tutoring and enrichment activities that complement regular academic programs. The centers also provide educational services for families of participating children.
Locally, Horizons will offer students well-rounded educational weekly programming that includes: outdoor and environmental education in cooperation with Fauquier County Parks and Recreation; nutrition and physical education that promotes a healthy and active lifestyle in collaboration with Fauquier FISH and FRESH – Fauquier Reaches for Excellence in School Health; fine arts, performing arts and STEM instruction with local partners, as well as monthly field trips and summer camps.
“The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant will greatly expand Windy Hill Foundation’s ability to offer high quality after-school and out-of-school programming for the approximately 75 resident children who live in Windy Hill Communities in Fauquier County,” said Claire Louis, Director of Programs for Windy Hill Foundation. “By partnering with W.G. Coleman, Claude Thompson, and Marshall Middle – the schools that most of our Fauquier County resident children attend– Windy Hill Foundation is able to strengthen the school-home bond and our families’ connection to the greater community. The joint Horizons program also follows our long-standing practice of serving not only resident children but also their neighbors and friends.”
Horizons is a free program that will meet after-school Monday through Friday and offer transportation between schools. Students in grades K-4 will attend Horizons at Claude Thompson Elementary and students in grades 5-8 will attend at the Bland-Graham Learning Den at the Marshall Community Center.
Jennifer Armstrong and David Seward, Lead Teachers at the Claude Thompson and the Bland-Graham Learning Den respectively, look forward to expanding the support for students through the Horizons Program.
“The Den is filled with the sounds of laughter, smiles of friendship, and comments like, Can you help with my math homework?” said Seward. “The educators who support the program tap years of teaching experience and have built relationships with our kids that are reflected in greater student self-confidence and motivation, which is enabling them to tackle challenging new schoolwork.”
“As an educator and as someone that grew up in Fauquier, I have seen the need in our community for a way to support our children and provide them with safe places to learn and grow beyond the school day,” said Armstrong. “The Horizons Program will fill this void and will be able to give youth the love and support they need to thrive and to ultimately contribute to the wonderful tapestry that is Fauquier.”
Stacie Griffin, Grant Technician for Fauquier County Public Schools, went on to say, “This grant is another wonderful example of our community coming together to create new opportunities for our students and families. The generosity and expertise from VDOE and our partners will give many students tutoring support and an active after-school experience that otherwise might not be an option for them. This program came together because of the vision and planning of our principals, teachers, Windy Hill Foundation and the dedicated Horizon’s team.”