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Special School District of St. Louis County

Mini-Grants Support Supplemental Programs for Students

Students who receive services from SSD are benefitting from a mini-grant program funded by the Special Education Foundation.

The program allows teachers to apply for mini-grants, which can be used for “extras” that create learning opportunities, foster social growth and relationships and allow for the purchase of additional technologies and materials.

Connie Fiore, SSD early childhood teacher at Parkway’s Instructional Learning Center (ISC) in the Parkway School District, received a mini-grant for the 2016-2017 school year to purchase an indoor tower garden. The tower garden is connected to academic lessons in science, math and literacy. It also supports physical development and social emotional activities and learning experiences.

Indoor tower gardens simplify traditional gardening, using a unique vertical garden system that makes it easy to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs.

“My students, parents and staff enjoy the gardening unit from seed to harvest,” said Fiore. “It is my favorite beginning to a school year.”

Students have the opportunity to study the life cycle of plants, use measurements, make predictions and estimations, and practice social/emotional skills. They are also learning about healthy nutrition.

Fiore added that SSD’s area coordinator for Hazelwood West High School, Matt Moellering, purchased a tower garden for his Essential Living Skills classes after he attended Fiore’s garden launch.

“The garden is used in science classes and students make predictions and take daily measurements of the plants,” said Moellering. “Students are also required to check water levels and balances. Once the plants are ready to harvest, then the students follow recipes as part of their Health and Nutrition class.”

Dana Brown Teacher Mini-Grants support programs that help students learn. For the 2017-2018 school year, the SEF awarded nearly $70,000 in mini-grants to support 99 programs. See a list of 2017-2018 grant recipients.

Since 1992, the SEF has played an important role in the lives of students who receive services from SSD. The SEF collaborates with SSD and helps fund and support scholarships, summer camps, arts in the classroom, assistive equipment, a high school leadership program and a student recognition program.

arrow icon For more information about the SEF, the Dana Brown Teacher Mini-Grants and the Foundation's other programs, visit

Published February 2017

photo of tower garden

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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