For good. For ever.®

VSDB Foundation

Staunton, VA

(website currently under development)

Amount Requested: $4,000 for CROPS (Cooperation, Respect, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Skills)

Mission: To provide support and promote the growth, progress, and general welfare of VSDB and education of the communities served by VSDB. The VSDB Foundation was created at the time that the VSDB Staunton and Hampton schools consolidated. It has provided grants to VSDB for summer programing, the VSDB horticulture program, and for five students and three teachers to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. The VSDB Foundation is increasing its efforts to enhance and improve the education, extracurricular activities, and campus environment for students.

Constituents Served: The VSDB Foundation provides support for all students enrolled at VSDB. VSDB is operated as an agency of the Commonwealth and collects no tuition or fees from its students who live across Virginia.  VSDB provides an environment which fosters self-confident students who are contributing citizens and life-long learners and serves as a resource of excellence for Virginia communities who serve students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/vision impaired and deaf-blind.  Comprehensive educational and support services are provided to children from birth to 22 years. The 2015-2016 student body is comprised of 98 students from preschool through twelfth grade (elementary students – 28%; middle school – 21%; high school  – 51%; 56 students are deaf/hard of hearing, 23 are blind/vision impaired, and 19 are multi-disabled). Last year, 47 students participated in the CROPS program. Our goal for 2015-2016 is to expand the program from 47 to 78 students.

Program Overview: The CROPS program (Cooperation, Respect, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Skills) mission is to develop the student’s abilities to make connections between the natural world, their community, and themselves.  We accomplish our goal through a school food garden, a sensory garden, a youth garden business, job training, and civic projects. Program staff collaborate with the AMI Urban Farm, a one-acre farm on the VSDB property managed by the Allegheny Mountain Institute. CROPS and the AMI Urban Farm provide an exploratory environment and curriculum specific to children with sensory concerns.  The program offers academic opportunities and nutritional education, as well as hands-on job training as students learn the responsibilities of running a business (recording keeping, sales/marketing of their products, horticultural skills, etc.).  The gardens also provide a physical and emotional outlet, which increases confidence, promotes independent life skills, develops relationships, and allows for self-reflection. The program aims to positively influence student’s attitudes and reinforce learning in the areas of science, math, nutrition, and the environment.  It also provides students with opportunities to gain confidence and practice independent life skills.

Students are involved in all aspects of the garden from selecting seeds, plant propagation, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, cooking, and even selling the produce.  VSDB incorporates all aspects of education in CROPS, including art (garden design and garden products as art supplies, English (garden journals), health and nutrition, history (Native American plant use and agricultural practices from other time periods and cultures), math (plant growth charting), physical education, science, social studies (problem solving, research skills, local food systems, and leadership), and job training.

Current Operating Budget: $189,700

Program Budget: $44,000

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