SAN ARDO, Calif. (KION) Aera Energy, an oil and gas producing company based in Bakersfield, is providing "Impact Grants" to five teachers in an effort to support programming that "enhances the academic development of students," and four of those teachers are based in southern Monterey County.
Two of the teachers are at the San Ardo Union Elementary School District, and the other two work at the San Lucas Union School District. They all applied for the grants by describing the project, how it will impact students and how success will be measured.
At the San Ardo district, teacher Amy Ardouin received a $500 grant to get new books for the classroom library, and teacher Tamara Vonderheide received $592 for materials to help teach tolerance, diversity and inclusion.
“This year has been difficult on every possible level, including race and equality issues,” said Vonderheide, who teaches first and second grade. “The hands-on teaching tools I purchased with the grant will provide opportunities to read about, interact with and experience other cultures and races. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and this grant makes it possible at a critical time in our society.”
At the district in San Lucas, teacher Lacey McClenaghan received a $488 grant to help with age-appropriate science activities designed around classic fairy tales for kindergarten through second grade, and teacher Tom Carvey received $505 to help increase student engagement in math through art.
“Distant learning can make school seem dull and remote,” said Carvey, who teachers grades 6-8. “Students need to be doing activities that involve their eyes and hands in creative ways."
Aera Energy is based in Bakersfield, but the company also does work in Monterey County. The company said it accounts for nearly 25% of the state's oil and gas production.