Oct. 27, 2022 - Spring Branch Middle School PTA was presented with $15,000 today for the campus’ robotics program. The Comal ISD PTA is one of five San Antonio area schools to receive a Texas STEAM Grant presented by Thomas J. Henry and TEXAS YES Project.
During an awards ceremony, SBMS science and robotics coach Sarah Burkhardt, principal Sally Bratton and SBMS PTA grants chair Kate Osborn accepted the check which will fund the science department’s robotics program with the purchase of eight robotics kits.
“This grant means the world,” says Burkhardt. “The kids, teachers and the community have had a really hard time over the past few years with COVID-19. The more we have community involvement in our campus, the more investment groups like TEXAS YES Project donate, and the more we as a community come together, we are able to show these students that the opportunities they have are not lost.
“This grant gives us the opportunity to create a greater future for these students and future students. This will not only benefit my students, but also future employers by helping encourage forward-thinking engineers.”
Currently, SBMS offers a Robotics Club where about 50 students have the opportunity to learn STEM skills through hands-on competitions. In fact, the SBMS team has been successful in the BEST Robotics league advancing to the state competition last year, and recently advancing to the regional BEST competition this year.
“What’s truly special about this grant, is that it takes a teacher’s dream and makes it a reality,” says Bratton, who credits Osborn for completing the grant application and working with Burkhardt to bring this wish into a reality. “Coaching or advising a club like robotics takes lots of dedication and passion, and that is what you see in Ms. Burkhardt. She doesn’t necessarily have the time to research grant opportunities and complete grant applications, so the fact that someone stepped up to do it for her, is phenomenal.”
Osborn is no stranger to writing grants. In fact, she spearheaded successful grant applications while serving as the grants chair for Rahe Bulverde Elementary PTA in 2021, and one of those grants was a TEXAS YES grant.
“This is just one way that I can help,” says Osborn, whose children attend SBMS and RBES. “Ms. Burkhardt is full of energy, and she wants to inspire her students to keep learning. She saw this grant as a great opportunity to engage more students.”
As Osborn says, Burkhardt has witnessed the excitement that the Robotics Club creates with students who are involved, and she would like to offer the same opportunities to all SBMS students. Unfortunately, the robotics kit that is used for the club’s competitions, may only be used for six weeks and must be returned annually to the BEST league, which means that students are not able to continue to learn throughout the year.
The purchase of the kits for science classes will help teachers introduce all students to engineering and robotics. This exposure will offer them a glimpse into STEM classes and career paths in high school and beyond.
“This grant opens the door to so many opportunities for students at SBMS,” says Burkhardt, “and I am so thankful to TEXAS YES Project and Thomas J. Henry for their support and their faith in our students.”
-Pictured from left is Ruben Herrera from Thomas J. Henry, Comal ISD director of gifted and talented and enrichment programs Sarah King, Kylee VanAusdall, Spring Branch Middle School teacher Sarah Burkhardt, Ryder McGinnis, Thomas Cauley, Griffin Kalapaca, Alaina Feehery, SBMS principal Sally Bratton, TEXAS YES executive director Danielle Gunter and SBMS PTA grants chair Kate Osborn.
-Pictured from left are members of the Spring Branch Middle School Robotics Club including Kylee VanAusdall, Alaina Feehery, Ryder McGinnis, Thomas Cauley and Griffin Kalapaca with SBMS science teacher and robotics coach Sarah Burkhardt.
-The Spring Branch Middle School competition robot.