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Sherrard Receives Grant for Innovation Labs

9/10/21 - Sherrard in the news! Thank you to Josh Lamberty over at WQAD News 8 for covering this story.

Sherrard School District granted $97,000 from the Looser-Flake Charitable Foundation, a private foundation administered by the Quad Cities Community Foundation, Illinois’s Sherrard School District will be able to take multiple approaches to its commitment to innovation, from outfitting an innovation lab for junior high and high school students to providing ongoing teacher training.
“These grants will aid investments in some amazing tech—but no one piece of equipment captures how far their impact will reach,” said Kelly Thompson, vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives at the Quad Cities Community Foundation. “Students will see the benefits of a strong foundation for years to come, and the entire Mercer County community will be better off for it.”
For Miller, an instructional technology coach, preparing students for the future means equipping them to solve problems with technology, including coding and robotics. While this curriculum will set students up to excel in the area’s agricultural and manufacturing industries, it will also equip them with universal skills like critical thinking and collaboration.  
In upgrading the junior high and high school’s library and media space into an innovation lab, Sherrard is taking a cue from its own success with a similar project in its elementary and intermediate schools, also supported by the Looser-Flake Foundation.

According to Miller, flexible, modular technology and furniture will take the connectivity teachers and students learned last year to new heights.
“We want students to be able to pick up their chairs so they can work in a group or gather around a monitor to collaborate,” said Miller. “And we’re creating spaces that kids want to be in.”
According to Miller, Sherrard’s teacher trainings will welcome educators from partner districts so that as many teachers—and students—as possible will benefit. “We may be in Sherrard, but we want kids in Orion and Rockridge to thrive.”
The advancements supported by the grants also show surrounding areas just what Mercer County is capable of. “A lot of people think of us as a school in a corn field; they don’t expect us to be able to offer this type of technology or education,” said Miller.
“The Looser-Flake Foundation has accelerated what we can do, and we’re only getting started. We’re so grateful—I don’t know another word for it—for the way we can expand our education for teachers, students, and the community.”
For the last four years, the Looser-Flake Foundation has granted over $600,000 to educational technology projects in support of the Mercer County Better Together Action Plan’s aim to strengthen supplemental education opportunities for Mercer County students. While the combined funds requested by the Sherrard and Mercer school districts exceeded the original budget for this year’s education grant program, Looser-Flake’s trustees found the requests so compelling that they fully funded both.
Cala Smoldt, Communications Coordinator