Illinois Retired Teachers Association

2019 IRTAF Grant Winners

This Fall, the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation (IRTAF) will award $36,500 in grant money to several public school educators from across the state. This grant money will allow these educators to enrich their instruction with materials not otherwise available to them. Their students are the real winners! A special thank you to the Illinois Principals Association for their assistance with the promotion of this program.  Below, you will find the name of each winner listed, along with his/her school, IRTA Area, and a paragraph summary about each project in the winner’s own words.

Angela Brown, Wallace Head Start, Sterling (1)
Our school is in need of a die cut machine. Myself and fellow teachers use our own money to buy items that have numbers and letters on them to make our bulletin boards appealing to our students. Children ages 3-5 are visual learners, they  need to see numbers and letters in order to help them learn how to count and gain letter recognition.

Sandra Carretto, Northwest Elementary, LaSalle (1)
We as teachers are trying to give students every opportunity to expand their world through a variety of STEM projects.  Exploring through hands on activities will allow them to learn how things work.  Hopefully, they might develop a passion for a certain interest and be able to travel down the right path to a job suited for their unique skills and desires.

Jennifer Curran, Bi-County Program for students who are Deaf/HH at Sterling High School, Sterling (1)
We want our general ed students to be able to communicate more with our students who are Deaf/HH.  They will build sign language skills by using games and other ASL materials/books.

Megan Dettman, Chana Education Center, Chana (1)
Our students are often times very visual learners.  We are currently working with outdated maps, so we often have to pull up small versions on the computer that are hard to read and decipher.  A new updated set of maps would help students visualize where we are learning about and be more cognizant of where various places in the world are located, while helping them be more conscious of various places in the world.

Maureen Drach, Livingston County Special Services Unit, Pontiac (1)
The Everyday Speech program offers activities, visual supports and social skills lessons that help students with social learning challenges across all age levels.  As a school social worker who works in various schools in Livingston County through our Special Education Cooperative, this Social Learning Platform is a valuable tool in teaching social skills to my students.

Tyler Erwin, Belvidere High School, Belvidere (1)
With this grant money I will be purchasing a 3d printer that will have a use throughout the science department whether it being creating custom hands on manipulative to understand the function and structure of the heart or to help demonstrate how glucose and oxygen can be broken down to create carbon dioxide and water. In addition to theses uses in the classroom this can also be used for activities such as Science Olympiad where students take time out of their busy schedules to work on 22 events ranging from building events to college level tests. These resources will ultimately help our students at BHS to connect with our science curriculum and help refine their passion to find their greatness.

Sydney Groen, Warren High School, Warren (1)
I plan on implementing more team building and leadership skills into my lessons. We will start our Fridays in each class with a different activity throughout the school year. This will lead to students working together and gaining skills they need for after high school.

Erin Hartman, Jefferson/Lincoln Elementary, Sterling (1)
Boomwhackers are hollow tubes tuned to a music pitch by length.  With the help of this grant, I will be able to purchase a classroom set of Boomwhackers.  In addition, I will also be able to purchase the first and 2nd volume of the Boomwhackers curriculum to be used in the elementary music classroom. In addition Octavator caps can be added to the end of each Boomwhacker to change the pitch by 1 octave.

June Hockison, Chana Education Center, Chana (1)
I am requesting the award to help build our school's supply of STEAM resources. Our school is an alternative high school that serves students who have adverse childhood experiences, resulting in behavioral issues. There is a great deal of research to support learning through play; the Turing Tumble  is a completely new type of game (ages 8 to adult) where players build mechanical computers, powered by marbles, to solve a series of fun logic puzzles.  Unlike other coding games, Turing Tumble teaches not only coding, but also how computers work.

Steve Kiesewetter, Metamora Township High School, Metamora (1)
Real Career Electrical Wiring Kit gives users safe, hands-on lessons on wiring common electrical circuits with instant assessment and corrective feedback.

Carrie Klein, Blackstone, Mendota (1)
Magnetic dry-erase paddles are a great way for my students to practice their skills. Students can hold them up to answer questions and/or show their work allowing me to easily see who understands the concepts. Best of all we can use them with all subject areas everyday and we are saving paper!

Lisa Petersen, Dimmick Consolidated School District #175, LaSalle (1)
The goal of this grant is to provide students in my RTI classroom with interactive hardware for an iPad that is already in my classroom. Osmo is a piece of hardware that turns the iPad into an interactive learning experience. It comes with manipulative that enhance the learning in math through the use of tangrams and in reading with the use of letter tiles.  Please visit www.playosmo.com for a video of children using the hardware.

Caitlin Roufa, Harlem High School, Machesney Park (1)
Students will be engaged in a solar observation and modeling project in Astronomy class. In this project, students will use a Solar Projection Telescope and a Refracting Telescope with a solar filter to chart sunspots, granules, prominences, and solar motion. Sunspot data in conjunction with SOHO and other online data will be used to model properties of the sun such as the solar cycle, solar rotation, and movement through Earth’s sky.

Carl Stoltz, Hononegah Community High School, Rockton (1)
Students will be using Chromebooks to connect to new wireless physics sensors that can measure many common measurements made in physics classes like: decibels, speed, force, electric current, electric voltage and magnetic field strength. Students will be able to perform new engaging experiments anywhere inside or outside the school. The Chromebooks will also be used by students to collaborate on their MOPS (Minds on Physics) assignments during class. MOPS is an engaging physics program that encourages critical thinking and is used as a large part of our physics curriculum. Students receive missions that need to be completed and they work through sets of increasingly complicated physics questions to complete the mission.

Becky Whited, Henry-Senachwine High School, Henry (1)
We are offering a 1 semester Physics II class next year for the first time.  I would like to base it on extended lab activities to expand on the concepts of Physics I.  For kinematics, I would like to do a unit on roller coaster physics to enforce the topics of gravity, kinetic and potential energy, velocity, acceleration and momentum.

Kelsey Zammuto, Hononegah Community High School, Rockton (1)
This project will meet the needs of not only chemistry students, but also environmental students, enabling the students throughout the years to think and act like scientists. The balances will initially be utilized for the oil eating bacteria project to ensure accurate masses of sand and gravel to make oil slicks and oily beaches, allowing students to observe the oil eating bacteria as an option to clean up oil spills. The balances will also be used in biology and chemistry classes to ensure students have the ability to easily make more significant and accurate measurements in laboratory experiments throughout the year. Students will potentially be inspired to pursue careers within environmental studies and protecting our oceans, a vital component to the sustainability of our planet through this project.


Principal Carl Hageman, Bart Bates, Wendy Wiegers and Assistant Principal Alex Ontiveros

Bart Bates, Robert Abbott Middle School, Waukegan (2)

My project is Elementary Drumline, I started this three years ago. It has built up to 24 participating students. The students learn rhythms in my general music class and take those rhythms and apply them to drumline exercises and cadences. They wrote or transcribed their own warm-up which was called "Glenwood Double Beat" they entered their composition in the district wide composer competition and won first place with their rendition of double beat. This exercise is common in most high school and independent drumlines.


Hal Schmeisser, Lilian Dovijarov, Wendy Wiegers and Chaya Rubenstein

Lilian Dovijarov, East Prairie School, Skokie (2)

I would like to expand my free voluntary reading library of Spanish and bilingual Spanish language books for the students in fourth through eighth grades in my Spanish world language program. As studies have shown, students who read for pleasure demonstrate improved literacy skills. By offering engaging and age-appropriate readers, picture books, and graphic novels, I hope to encourage students to love reading in Spanish.


Director Joe Barbic accepting check for Kelly Gibbs

Kelly Gibbs, Indian Valley Vocational Center, Sandwich (2)

Indian Valley Vocational Center (IVVC) high school students enrolled in the Graphic Design program will reach new levels of creativity using the Canon 100mm Macro Lens with the existing Canon cameras. Students will capture extremely close-up photos, focusing on the skills of depth of field and aperture. In their chosen program, Graphic Design students learn the art of combining text with pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books, and students will use this lens to photograph unique images. The high quality lens will increase the scope of student projects, help them to be successful, and allow students to learn on industry-standard equipment.


Principal Laurel Mateyka and Ashley Klein

Ashley Klein, PH Miller Elementary School, Plano (2)

Gross Motor Skills are a critical component to our day, especially at the Early Childhood Level.  At times, my students need to have their gross motor time inside our classroom.  During these times, I set up stations for the students to rotate to where they have the chance to practice skills like throwing, jumping, hopping, and balance.  The materials I am purchasing with my grant will allow my students the chance to have access to additional materials so we can rotate what is available for the students to use while still providing them with an opportunity to practice their skills.


Principal Laurel Mateyka and Nicole Kulbartz

Nicole Kulbartz, P.H. Miller, Plano (2)

I am requesting money to purchase a sensory table, dollhouse and accessories for my classroom.  I am currently in the process of implementing developmentally appropriate practices at the kindergarten level such as play-based centers for social-emotional development.  Having the above items will allow students more opportunities to explore, investigate and play like five and six-year olds should!


Wendy Wiegers, Adam Lueken, Brian Miller, Allison Molloy and Principal Jon Guillaume

Adam Lueken, Vernon Hills High School, Vernon Hills (2)

VHHS computer science students are looking to create an old fashion arcade cabinet that allows others to play the games that they have programmed themselves. Woods class would be in charge of creating the cabinet itself. Art students would be in charge of designing the artwork around the cabinet. And finally, the programmers would be creating the games and main menu.


Wendy Wiegers, Sharon McDaniel and Principal Amy Grossman

Sharon McDaniel, Little Fort School, Waukegan (2)

Rain can be pretty amazing, and it helps our Little Fort School garden thrive. But what can we do when the rain stops, and our school garden start to dry up, and our plants begin to die?  One way to help our students learn about water conservation is with a rain barrel.

Sharon McDaniel, Little Fort School, Waukegan (2)
Sitting in a desk in a classroom and raising your hand can be intimidating for a lot of students, especially if it’s difficult to hear. Everything from air conditioning units, to classroom acoustics and layout can impact a child’s ability to hear and learn. Every voice at Little Fort School is important and with the help of a Qball Wireless Microphone, every voice will be heard!

Sharon McDaniel, Little Fort School, Waukegan (2)
Learning to read is a magical process whereby children first learn how to turn letters into sounds, and then sounds into meaningful words. The more opportunities that I can give my students to practice decoding, or putting sounds together to make words, the better readers they will become!

Sharon McDaniel, Little Fort School, Waukegan (2)
Words that rhyme sound the same at the end.  Rhyming is all about manipulating oral language.  It’s about working with language, sounds within language, and playing with language.  Nursery rhymes help develop an ear for our language and the rhyme and rhythm of nursery rhymes highlight the sounds and syllables in words which helps our emergent readers at Little Fort School understand sounds and syllables!


Daniel Olandese and Assistant Principal Brian Coowey

Daniel Olandese, Oswego High School, Oswego (2)

Using 3D printing technology in the classroom will allow students and teachers the opportunity to expand what is possible inside the classroom.  Students will be able to design and build hands-on products and models which will challenge them to think critically and creatively to understand and solve problems.


Wendy Wiegers, Rebecca Seal and Principal Amy Grossman

Rebecca Seal, Little Fort, Waukegan (2)

As educators, we know that handwriting is important. We also know that many of our students learn through movement, and doing, and especially trying things.  This is known as kinesthetic learning!  My special project is to provide our kindergarten students at Little Fort School with explicit kinesthetic teaching of handwriting.


Wendy Wiegers, Tim Smith and Principal Amanda Pryce

Timothy Smith, Lyon Magnet School, Waukegan (2)

My students are required to use headphones for NWEA MAP testing and IAR testing each year. Many of them come from homes where there are no headphones other than old earbuds from someone's phone. These are usually inoperable after 2 months. I have bought MANY pairs of headphones from Dollar Tree, but the quality/durability does not allow them to last long.

Megan Alpert, River Grove Elementary School, River Grove (3)
The Zones of Regulation curriculum will be utilized for students in Tier II who need additional support. Our students in Tier II attend a small group twice-a-week to learn skills related to expected behavior at school. River Grove School District is seeking an evidence-based program that benefits students ages 4-13 and teaches emotional regulation, problem-solving, and sensory skills that can be utilized age-appropriately  across Elementary and Junior High ages.

Raymond Cannon, Indian Trail Junior High School, Addison (3)
This grant will allow us to purchase digital sound recorders to install in our music classrooms. This will allow directors to record and play back live audio instantly through our sound systems. The recordings will be used for review and tracking student progress.

Sean Dailor, Kankakee High School, Kankakee (3)
We hope to create a chess team for our entire high school population. Our chess team will give our students a chance to better develop critical thinking and strategy skills as well as increase spatial reasoning. We hope to give them the opportunity to collaborate as a team and to work and compete together.

Karn Dempsey, Ridge Lawn School, Chicago Ridge (3)
I would like to bring textile art into my classroom. Having a large loom where students can cooperatively learn and interact would be ideal. This would be a lasting piece of equipment that I would be able to use with all age levels of students year after year.

Julie Diedenhofen, River Grove School, River Grove (3)
I would like to replace our current classroom atlas set for 30 students. The books we have now are much loved but old and falling apart. We use these daily for world geography skills.

Jen Gross, Thornton Fractional South High School, Lansing (3)
My life skills classroom was recently remodeled and a kitchen and laundry area were added.  My district lacks the funds to stock it with necessary items to make it functional.  If awarded, this grant would be used to purchase items necessary to utilize the classroom to its full potential.  This would provide my students with an authentic learning environment that supports the goal of increasing independence through the development of functional life skills.

Lori Montgomery, Prairieview-Ogden CCSD #197, Ogden (3)
This award is being used to further an ongoing project that is partially funded by the Champaign County Audubon Society for the development of a wildlife area on our school property.  We have installed native plants, bird feeders, and a bird bath to attract and sustain local wildlife.  We want to add some picnic tables to create an area for an outdoor classroom.  These tables will also allow students with special needs to access a calming environment to work and create.

Jessica Peterson, Reavis, Lansing (3)
Recently, my school has started using the Daily 5 method for small groups.  I love this method because one of the stations is "Read to Self" where the children choose their own books and read to themselves.  However, I do not have updated books that the children enjoy reading.  I would like to use this money to buy books for my classroom, as they can get very expensive, and we do not have a classroom budget to buy supplies.

Carol Rezmer, Brodnicki Elementary School, Justice (3)
Our school has had a 6th grade Battle of the Books for the last 6 years.  Sixth grade students are organized into teams of four to compete in this battle.  Each team is responsible for reading the same designated 20 books.  At the end of the school year, the teams face off in a seeded tournament to determine the winner of the Battle of the Books.

Samantha Sebestik, Eastlawn Elementary, Rantoul (3)
It is our desire to add a school garden to our grounds with the belief that such a space would promote environmentally conscious students and provide many hands-on learning opportunities.  Such learning opportunities may include but are not limited to health, science,  weather/climate and citizenship.  Our intentions are that a school garden consisting of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit would be maintained and cared for by both students and staff.

Melissa Tronco, Pennoyer School, Norridge (3)
Using leveled readers to differentiate instruction during guided reading. Working at my students instructional level and over time making them more independent readers with support.

Shellie Brooks, Greenview School #200, Greenview (4)
Cardio drumming is a fun full body workout that will get kids moving and sweating and smiling!  This activity will be great to use with kids K-8 for a different variation for rhythm; they won't even know they are getting a workout.

Ryan Burks, Illini Central Middle School, Mason City (4)
The state of Illinois requires that the U.S. and Illinois Constitution be taught in the classroom, but our school doesn't purchase materials to teach the subject. I would use these funds to help purchase materials and resources that the students can use to help them learn and understand these two very important documents. Also, I would like to purchase "Escape Room" type materials to make learning about history fun and engaging for the students.

Ron Folkens, Regional Alternative School, Bloomington (4)
This grant will allow the Regional Alternative School to purchase 4 Sphero BOLT Robots that will allow our students authentic experience with Robotics.  Students will be able to code and practice problem solving through the use of these robots. This will help our students become engaged in their learning in our STEAM classes as well as integrating it into other classrooms.

Nichole French, Havana Jr. High, Havana (4)
Bullying is a common theme at the middle school level.  In 5th grade, we read a book called Schooled that focuses on bullies.  The students love it and it really helps them get a true understanding of how to deal with bullies.  I would like to purchase more books because ours are falling apart, and have money for a project at the end that involves giving away handmade items to make someone else happy!

Melissa Harrison, Dunlap High School, Dunlap (4)
The goal of the digitized graphic novel project is to encourage a creative and interdisciplinary experience for a broad range of students by engaging them directly and actively in the production of graphic novels. Using Wacom Inkling digital sketch pens, students will create layered sketches on paper that will transfer directly to the computer for editing. Purchasing a thermal binding machine and thermal presentation covers, would allow students to produce actual bound books as finished products.

Sarah Horner, United High School, Monmouth (4)
Our district is a 21st Century school, however we have no classes that focus or even use robots. Students can learn to code, build and work together on robots. My goal is to begin a small robotics team and watch it grow throughout the year.

Heather Kusk, Tremont Middle/High School, Tremont (4)
I am requesting 700 dollars to bring fun and sound to our Physical Education classes! This money would add a portable PA system to be used among our two gyms as well as 6 turbo-scooters to be used for many different activities. We use standards based grading within our classes and would love to add some different fun fitness activities with music and scooters to help our students become lifelong movers.

Joseph McLemore, Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School, Mackinaw (4)
Faced with declining interest in reading among our student body, I started a project of Silent Sustained Reading in my classroom, in which every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday students have an interval of quiet reading a grade-level outside book of their choice at the beginning of the class period.  I assess their reading through a number of ways: sometimes a pen/paper test, other times a speech, other times creating art, poetry, songs and even programming video games based on their chosen book.  My students' scores on standardized reading tests have increased 28% since I began this initiative, and I have some previously reluctant readers who are now reading a book every week or two.

Jenni Moran, Quincy High School, Quincy (4)
I am requesting this grant in order to buy a new stove for our Life Skills classroom at Quincy Senior High School.  The stoves we have now are malfunctioning and in need of replacement.  With this new stove, we could continue to help our students with special needs learn and develop essential skills that will help them once they leave our school.

Kate Sanders, Quincy Senior High School, Quincy (4)
As an itinerant teacher of students who are deaf/hard of hearing, having a designated laptop to transport between buildings is valuable! Knowing each day, my students have access to technology during our sessions together, allows for consistency and continuity of resource work and specific software for DHH students.

Nicole Wikoff, Hickory Grove Elementary School, Dunlap (4)
I would like to purchase 7 Osmo Genius Kits for my kindergarten classroom to learn with our iPads.  Osmo allows students to learn letters, words, numbers, shapes, and critical thinking skills all while playing a game.  My kindergarten students will be engaged and learning new concepts as well as practicing previously learned skills.

Stephanie Wilson, Gillespie Middle School, Gillespie (4)
Encouraging Reading through Illinois Book Awards: This grant would be used to purchase sets of the 2020 Rebecca Caudill Nominees and 2019 Illinois Reads Grades 6-8 Titles.  Gillespie Middle School students, along with students throughout the state, are encouraged to read these selections and vote on the winners in February.

Lisa Bertetto, Arthur Grade School, Arthur (5)
I would like to utilize more technology in my art classroom. I would also like to integrate more choice based learning centers.  The use of tablets in the art classroom would give my students the opportunity to create digital art, as well as access online art apps and activities. They would also be able to upload their artwork to an online gallery and  write and post their own artist statements.

Kathleen Burdick, Arthur Grade School, Arthur (5)
My special education classroom is seeking financial help for headphones for computers and IPADS.

Emily Crossman, Arthur Grade School, Arthur (5)
Our class is in need of appropriate storage for our individual books to use during our Daily 5 literacy time. We would also appreciate child-sized, fun furniture to use during our independent reading times. At 5 years old, we are constantly working to build our stamina during Daily 5 time, and creating a comfortable, home-like environment will help our students to stay focused and on-task for longer periods of time.

Karen Hanfland, Beecher City Jr High, Beecher City (5)
A mobile woodworking trailer, called Benchworx, will visit the school. Students will use tools (drills, hammers, screw drivers) to design and build a project. Students will use measuring, planning, and problem solving. Students will present each project and detail steps used to create their item.

Cindy McIlwain, Windsor Grade School, Windsor (5)
Our school has recently purchased a cart to put science equipment on for a traveling "lab experiment."  I would like to be able to furnish this cart with the necessary equipment that would allow teachers in K-6 to spend more time allowing students to do STEM activities.

Morgan Pals, Brownstown High School, Brownstown (5)
A greenhouse would provide wonderful learning opportunities for my students.  Although we are located in a rural farming community, my students have limited knowledge of how plants grow.  This is a fundamental concept that pertains to one’s life, and I feel that providing students with such learning experiences through the growth and development of a variety of plant species could potentially inspire students to pursue a career in agriculture or botany.

Jessica Reber, Taylorville Junior High School, Taylorville (5)
I would like to have fraction manipulatives in my classroom for each student to use for various learning activities.  In fifth grade we learn extensively about fractions, comparing, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions.  It is important that students understand fractions, and the manipulatives help tremendously.  I have not yet been able to purchase them due to the expense of a classroom set.

Ryan Repking, Dieterich Junior/Senior High School, Dieterich (5)
Our school is trying to start a small engine repair trades class.  The class is very expensive due to the requirement to buy tool boxes, tool sets, and engines for the students.  The district I work for is very small, so we are limited on what we can buy.  The grant money would be an amazing investment for the program because everything purchased can be passed on for years to come.

Ashley Wishard, East Prairie Jr High, Tuscola (5)
Teaching special students the art of cooking and job skills through Friday Fun Food Day and Coffee Cart. Part of self care skills, being able to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for themselves is crucial in the learning process. Learning to cook is a skill that students will use for the rest of their lives!

Rob Campbell, Liberty Middle School, Edwardsville (6)
Money received will be used to purchase a set of 50 Snark tuners to be used by band members at the start and during rehearsal to check their intonation. At the middle school level, we start teaching the students to be aware of how in tune or out of tune their instrument is. Knowing the pitch tendencies of their  instrument helps improve the intonation and overall quality of the entire ensemble. Other than the cost of replacement batteries, these should be able to be utilized by band members for years.

Jennifer Connolly, Granite City Senior High School, Granite City (6)
I am hoping to conduct book clubs with future classes using engaging and relevant young adult titles.  Just like Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher in their recent professional development book, 180 Days, I've found kids get excited about reading stories in which they can both see themselves and find new perspectives.  The books I've selected are high interest and will be of use for many years to come.

Chara Helton-Rodenhaus, Kreitner Elementary School, Collinsville (6)
Students struggle with focus, stamina, problem solving, self-confidence, and even self-esteem.  A chess club is a great way to help students learn and build these skills and traits within themselves.  It teaches them to have patience, focus on the task at hand, self-discipline, be a team player, and the self-confidence to problem-solve.  I want to start a chess club at our school to help our students develop these skills and leave Kreitner Elementary being confident, problem solving students of integrity.

Jordan Hohm, Wyvetter Younge Alternative Center, East St. Louis (6)
Students in alternative schools often feel disconnected from their community or school district. One way for students to connect is through civic engagement opportunities. Currently, East St. Louis' Wyvetter Younge Alternative Center partners with local organizations to run a food pantry out of the school with students as volunteers. Through the development of a student-operated, on-campus garden, students will add homegrown, fresh produce to the offerings of the food pantry.

Teresa Horvath, Millstadt Primary Center, Millstadt (6)
Kindergarten is a hands on learning environment. Math manipulatives provide activities in which the students are engaged to make sense of or master skills.  I would like to purchase additional manipulatives so that my lessons can involve active participation of all my students.

Conor Keeley, Millstadt, Millstadt (6)
I have been a 5th grade Social Studies teacher for the past 3 years.  On August 1st, two weeks before our school year was about to begin, my assignment got changed to teach math and science.  I had a classroom entirely set up to teach Social Studies (books, posters, bulletin board borders, etc.)  I have tried to transition my room from Social Studies to Math and Science throughout the year, but there is still a ways to go.

Deborah Kokotovich, John A Renfro Elementary, Collinsville (6)
The reason for my supply request is to provide students with a visual tool to learn and understand time and number sense. Also, with the clocks and calculators they can practice skills independently.

Ann Little, Amelia V. Carriel Junior High School, O'Fallon (6)
As an ELA class in Illinois we cover the Holocaust unit. This is a very large and comprehensive unit. Group discussions about the books and articles the students read are a vital part of this instruction. We are in need of classroom books for literature circles, so that we can also communicate with other 8th grade classes about these books via Skype or through Google Classroom.

Keri Lugge, Parkside Primary Center, Bethalto (6)
Each year, my class does a program "What I Love About America." Students research an American holiday and an important American symbol/person/monument. They create a speech, make visual aides, and learn patriotic songs. I would love for them to be able to present their program to the residents of a local nursing home.

Dawn Musenbrock, Trenton Elementary, Trenton (6)
Cardio Drumming is different than any other program offered in schools.  It combines rhythms and exercise and drumming for a full body workout.  It engages the body and the mind.

Melissa Potvin, N.O. Nelson Elementary, Edwardsville (6)
Our classroom recently received an iPad for use with Special Education English Language Learner (ELL) students.  I would like to purchase 19 additional learning apps to increase the students' abilities to use and engage in language promoting activities. The use of these apps will allow the students access to audio input that enables them to begin to work independently while making meaningful connections to language.

Jamison Schultz, Bethel School District 82, Mount Vernon (6)
I want to create a writing program with Chromebooks to integrate writing into daily classroom activities.  My goal is to set up a writing center in my classroom dedicated to writing letters, creating greeting cards, essays and other correspondence to be shared in Google Classroom for RTI purposes and mastery.

Marci Sherwin, Bluford Unit School District, Bluford (6)
Math is a concrete experience.  To fully understand the usefulness of the skills learned in this subject, students need hands on activities to make connections to their world.  Students need manipulative tools to make these connections and fully learn the skills that we are guiding them through in our classroom.

Stephanie Vandeford, John A. Renfro Elementary, Collinsville (6)
The $600 will go to new and engaging novel sets for our students to read in small groups. Giving the students tangible and meaningful pieces of text will help them apply their knowledge of the skills and strategies being taught in Reading class. Our grade level currently has a few novel sets and the students are always incredibly excited to open a new adventure!

Lynn Vermeiren, Collinsville High School, Collinsville (6)
I would like my students to increase their ability to perform independent living and pre-vocational tasks through the use of task boxes in the classroom. I teach a diverse group of students with multiple disabilities, and using task boxes is a great way to engage students in hands on learning. Students work on gross and fine motor skills, following directions, task completion, and so much more.

Valerie Vickery, Renfro Elementary, Collinsville (6)
Through my project, I would like to expose my students to STEM activities to show them there are careers that they might not even know exist.  My project seeks to acquire educational robots for students to explore the areas of coding/programming and technology.  My students deserve this opportunity because these robots will excite, engage,  and encourage them to become creative learners, thinkers, and innovators.

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