Tehachapi Unified School District teachers care about helping their students reach their potential using different learning techniques — even if it takes applying for grants outside the district to fund creative projects.

That’s what Jacobsen Middle School art teacher Debbie Haeberle is doing using a $750 grant to pay for a special art project.

“It’s rewarding. Kids smile and parents thank you,” Haeberle said. “Everyone can make something. There is graphic arts, sculptures, photography and mixed media. I try to introduce them to a lot of mediums.”

Haeberle plans on converting hand-drawn student art outlines to foil creations using laminators, a new camera, foil paper, card stock and basic art supplies that were purchased from the grant funds. 

The California Table Grape Commission awarded 19 Innovation in Teaching grants to Kern County educators this year, and the middle school received one.

Haeberle said the district qualified for this grant because the area is surrounded by vineyards.

This year more than 9,000 students throughout California have the opportunity to participate in agriculture, math, science, art, health, and technology projects through a total of 51 education grants from the Table Grape Commission, according to a recent news release.

Some students come to class feeling that art is not a subject they enjoy, but giving them a variety of choices can motivate them, added Haeberle.

“It’s her passion and she wants to get the kids to see there is a career in art and we are very lucky to have her,” Principal Sharon Heitman said. She added that math, history and other core subjects are addressed through art.

The California Table Grape Commission was created in 1967 by the California legislature and also provides scholarships to further education in agriculture. 

“California grape growers are proud to support this education grant program that benefits students in classrooms all over the table grape growing regions of the state,” said Kathleen Nave, commission president.