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Gas for the class

Greenway school program one of many boosted by Chevron fundraiser


by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Susan Bomber, a special education teacher at McKinley Elementary School, assists a student in a visual exercise during class last fall. Bomber's classroom benefited from Chevron's Fuel Your School fundraising program.Most of the gas Chevron sells at its Washington County stations goes into cars and trucks, but some of the product sold in October is helping to fuel robots at a Beaverton elementary school.

Tera Langlois, whose third-grade class at Greenway Elementary School is exploring robotics through Lego Mindstorm robots, is among several area teachers benefitting from Chevron’s 2013 “Fuel Your School” program, which generated $350,000 in Multnomah and Washington counties.

For the program, Chevron Texaco Corp. teamed up with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity site that facilitates donations to schools and school districts in the two counties.

Fuel Your School was driven by the lack of adequate public school funding in recent years that left some teachers without basic supplies to help students complete classroom

assignments.

Chevron agreed to donate $1 for every 8 gallons of gasoline purchased at participating Washington County stations during October 2013. The funds go toward classroom projects area teachers posted on DonorsChoose.org between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30. Sales were strong enough for Chevron to donate the maximum $350,000 amount it agreed to provide, said Brent Tippen, a Chevron spokesman at the company’s San Ramon, Calif., headquarters.

The program is providing funding to teachers at more than 115 Washington and Multnomah county public schools for classroom resources. The program benefits 336 local public school classroom projects, including nearly more than 160 resources to help support science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, curriculum.

“The teacher decides what he or she wants in the classrooms, whether it’s science equipment, books — whatever the teacher thinks will help the learning experience,” Tippen explained.

Langlois, who has taught at Greenway for seven years, received enough from “Fuel Your School” to purchase two of the Lego robots for her “Engineering with Robots” classroom program.

“My students need to learn a lot this year,” she explained, of the school’s many students from lower-income families. “Many are two years behind academically, and school is very hard for them. They have to work twice as hard as others to make any progress.

“They need something that reminds them that learning can be fun. That once they do that hard work, it pays off with things that make you a better, more inspired person,” she added.

For the next few weeks, the whole class will rotate through the robot section of the design and build learning unit.

“Learning standards have been shifting across the nation, and our team noticed that designing and building a prototype (robot) to provide a function was a larger piece of the science curriculum than before,” Langlois said. “One student told me after making paper robots that he wished we had the money at our school to make real ones because that is ‘real science.’ That stuck with me, and so I am looking for him. I am looking for all the kids in my class that beg to build things with blocks.”

Launched in California as a pilot program in 2010, Fuel Your School has grown into a $7.2 million investment involving 14 U.S. markets, Oregon, California, Utah, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Alaska and Hawaii among them. The program has helped fund more than 17,000 classroom projects at more than 3,000 schools in the nation, Tippen said, growing enough each year to support students in various communities where Chevron has business operations.

“The materials Chevron helped fund will help me teach children to be curious, to love learning, and to work with friends,” said Tami Edwards, a kindergarten teacher at Harrison Park School in Southeast Portland. “These children are our future, and when I see them working together and using the skills they have learned, I know the future looks good.”




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