Red Cedar Elementary School teachers Rebecca Himes, left, and Jacquelyn Visscher received a grant from the Foundation for Educational Excellence for their project “Throwin’ Clay in the Art Room.”

The Foundation for Educational Excellence awarded 13 Innovative Teacher Grants and 6 School Resource Grants in late November to teachers across Beaufort County from 14 different schools. The grants, totaling more than $26,000, were awarded to teachers and schools for innovative learning opportunities and projects that go beyond the regular school district budget.

“The grants will provide individual learning opportunities for almost 7,000 Beaufort County students this year with some projects providing multi-year experiences,” said Michel Claudio, innovative grants chair and Foundation board member. “Students impacted by these funds include elementary through high school across the district.”

This year’s innovative learning projects range from producing a musical to creating a South Carolina fence garden and from cooking classes for Special Education high school students to a composting program at an elementary school.

Red Cedar Elementary School teachers Rebecca Himes and Jacquelyn Visscher received a grant for their project “Throwin’ Clay in the Art Room.” This money will be used to purchase a pottery wheel for the school’s art room.

Through the grant, kindergarten through fifth grade students will have the opportunity to experience how a real pottery wheel works. They will witness the process of making a ceramic vessel, from a lump of clay to a fired and glazed final piece of art, gaining real life art gallery experience to display their artwork and share their newfound knowledge with others.

Other Bluffton teachers awarded grants are: Megan Hutto, Bluffton Middle, “Manipulating the World”; Heidi McAllister, Bluffton Middle, “Carolina Fence Garden”; Jeffrey Stinson, McCracken Middle, “The Science Behind Tuning a Guitar”; Laura VanHorn, Bluffton Elementary and Early Childhood, “The Wildcat Compost Zone”; Bree Lauffer, Okatie Elementary, “Go Fish: Exploring the Impacts of Fish on a Hydroponic Lab”; Jennifer Calcorzi and Chelsey Bates, Beaufort Jasper Academy for Career Excellence (ACE), “Can You Hear Me Now?”; Marlayna Tracy and Eric Mohrman, River Ridge, “Learning STEAM Through LEGO Education”; Elizabeth M. Reber, Bluffton High, “Bobcat Bistro”; Dara Kappel, Bluffton Elementary, “Full STEAM Ahead”; Kristiana Valentine, Lindsay Binkley, Whitney Knopf and Sandra Viskovich, Red Cedar Elementary, “Sand, Sand, Everywhere! Phonics Fun.”

“The Foundation is thrilled to help equip both teachers and students for an excellent return to classroom learning,” said Lisa Carroll, Foundation board chair. “These projects that exceed typical classroom budgets represent the passion and the dedication that our Beaufort County School District teachers have to provide their students with an educational experience that goes above and beyond.”

Established in 2007, the Foundation awarded its first grants in 2009 and has awarded over $300,000 in grants to the teachers and students in the public school system since its inception benefitting thousands of students across the county each year.

The nonprofit Foundation is a fund of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. For more information, visit, call 843-304-1922, or email