Camillus Janine Corning has a ferocity about her. Ask her fellow colleagues at Camillus Middle School and they will use words like “spitfire” and “great” when describing the physical education teacher of 10 years.
So it came as no surprise that her efforts reaped dividends when the West Genesee School District was awarded a $508,173 federal grant to improve its nutrition and physical education programs.
The school district was among 10 school districts in New York state— and the only district in Central New York— to receive a Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
“For me personally,” Corning said about not giving up, “I come from a family of workaholics, very hard working parents. [My family] have all been successful and constantly striving to do great things.”
The process, no doubt, tested Corning’s patience, but it was her perseverance that trumped the odds after a long-standing, seven-year wait. Corning and other physical education teachers found out about the federal grant by attending conferences as members of the State Physical Education Association.
“[At the time] it was initially a $70 million grant,” Corning said. “We were like, ‘What is this?’ ‘We got to get in on it!”
Due to budget cuts, the grant has been cut in half to nearly $30 million.
While many members at the conference brushed off the opportunity to improve its school district’s physical education department, Corning and company jumped at the opportunity.
“It was a total physical education department, district and community initiative,” Corning said. “It did take a lot of support and we got that support to get this accomplished.”
Corning describes applying for a grant of that magnitude as time consuming. Since it was a physical education grant, you’re using the data that you have with your students in terms of fitness testing, equipment, facilities that you have to offer – you’re analyzing that. A curriculum review is also in order, according to Corning.