Illinois Retired Teachers Association


2018 Grant Winners

This Fall, the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation (IRTAF) will award nearly $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.



Principal Alex Moore, Peg Mosher, Valarie Ackert, and Jo Anne Nelson

Valarie Ackert, Montmorency School, Rock Falls (1)
I am requesting a grant for $400 which would supply my students with the necessary hands-on materials to learn important STEM concepts, including math fractions, force and motion, and magnets. The New Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards require units over both forces and interactions and fractions, which are difficult concepts for third grade students to understand without manipulatives and interactive materials. These materials will give my students the opportunity to use all of their senses to help them become more effective and efficient learners.

Dr. John Carlton, Fred Kunz, Melissa Angeles, Norman Alpers, and Principal Eric Flohr

Melissa Angeles, Hononegah Community High School, Rockton (1)
The objective is to ensure that each chemistry student at Hononegah High School will be able to have a greater understanding about the properties of acids and bases through titrations. The students will benefit from the magnetic hot plates because more students will be able to do titrations. Specifically, students will be engaged in thinking like a scientist by using scientific equipment in an inquiry lab to determine the concentration of an unknown acid. All labs will take place in the chemistry classrooms at Hononegah High School to ensure proper technique of lab equipment and safety precautions.

Dr. John Carlton, Fred Kunz, Anita Bond, Norman Alpers, and Principal Eric Flohr

Anita Bond, Hononegah HS, Rockton (1)
This system can be used in all of my courses and for a wide variety of interactive purposes. Furthermore, this system is easily movable among classrooms to be shared with other teachers. Finally, this program doesn't require teachers to program all game questions so it can be used for formative assessment quickly.



Principal Keith Stewart, Laura Crisp, and Jo Anne Nelson

Laura Crisp, Prophetstown High School, Prophetstown (1)

Prophetstown students will use Rubik’s Cubes to learn geometry, ratios, proportion, critical thinking, and technology. A set of 100 3x3 Rubik’s Cubes are used by students to create mosaics, understand patterns, and work together to solve problems. These cubes, and the accompanying curriculum, provide dozens of STEAM lessons for teachers in grades K-12 across the district.



Principal Michael Balestri, Lynn Delvallee, and Mary Trovero

Lynn Delvallee, Lincoln Elementary School, Oglesby (1)

Students in grades 3-5 visit the library once a week to borrow books and participate in centers. Rosie Revere Engineer and Mr. Ferris and His Wheel will be read to the students. All grades will use their engineering skills to build bridges. Bridges will be displayed during the open house.



Principal William Lamb, Todd Derham, and Jo Anne Nelson

Todd Derham, Stark County High School, Toulon (1)

The “It’s a 3D World” project will provide over 200 students with 3D printing and rapid prototyping experience which is a current technology used in industry and engineering. The school which this project will serve is very small and rural. The students do not have many opportunities to experience this type of technology first hand. The hope is that this will encourage students to pursue careers in engineering or advanced manufacturing.



Principal Travis Findlay, Keta Foltz, and Mike Highland

Keta Foltz, West Carroll Primary School, Savanna (1)

Alison McGhee writes high-interest, high quality literature for readers of all ages. We will make these books available to our students and their families throughout the year at community events, school programs and activities.
Our project will culminate with award winning author, Alison McGhee, visiting our school in the spring. She is a dynamic speaker and will present to our students about both the mechanics and craft of writing and an overall love of books and stories.



Principal William Lamb, Deborah Ford, and Jo Anne Nelson

Deborah Ford, Stark County Jr. High, Toulon (1)

I am interested in improving our school's atmosphere. There are so many messages in the book Wonder, by R. J. Palacio - such as bullying, friendship, and a positive attitude - that can be used with our students to discuss social issues. Additionally, we have a quality piece of literature to use when implementing state goals.



Mike Geiseman, Linda Nott, and Principal Andrew Lobdell

Mike Geiseman, Lena-Winslow Junior High, Lena (1)

I am requesting money to purchase various World Geography games for my classroom. I have students who finish early in class and have nothing to do. This will allow those students to be able to learn about World Geography while playing the games.



Superintendent Carl Carlson, Assistant Principal Chris Newsome, Katie Grumbine, Matt Gimbal, and Mary Crook

Matt Gimbal, Putnam County High School, Granville (1)

Students respond positively to various teaching styles, techniques, and technology. By integrating updated classroom maps in my social science classes, I can better facilitate my curriculum for my students. These maps will be used as a visual reference during lectures in World Geography, World History, and Modern US History classes. Students will be able to link the past to the present in terms of empires, wars, and geography.



Principal Chris Bickel, Ken Harris, and Donna Inman

Ken Harris, Leland Elementary School, Leland (1)

I'm adding to my nutrition, fitness and rhythm and dance units at Leland Elementary School. The items requested are important to the mentioned units. The items requested are mobile, allowing me to use indoor/outdoor.



Principal Terry Camplain, Jean Whipple, June Hockison, and Fred Kunz

June Hockison, Chana Education Center, Chana (1)

The project I am requesting the award for provides art therapy to students attending an alternative high school that serves students who have adverse childhood experiences, resulting in behavioral issues. Students are given the opportunity to express themselves through various artistic mediums, including sculpting, drawing, painting, string art, origami, and even scrapbooking.

Principal Matt Cascio, Norman Alpers, Chris Noble, Fred Kunz, and Wendy Wiegers

Chris Noble, Harlem Middle School, Loves Park (1)
The HMS MAKERs club has been small due to low resources to support growth, resorting to learning by tearing electronics and machines apart. Although these activities have been beneficial, I would like to take our club in the direction of CREATING things designed to address the observed needs, joys, and challenges in my students' world. I want them to gain skills that will help ensure they enter a exponentially increasing industry of design-thinking through additive manufacturing.



Dennis Henderson, Jo Anne Nelson, Janel Reed, and Principal Stacey Day

Janel Reed, Mercer County High School, Aledo (1)

My project will allow students to connect real world heroes and the American mythology of superheroes. Through reading pieces of nonfiction and analyzing a comic book, students will make connections between history and literature and enjoy reading at the same time. We all long to be courageous and brave in our daily lives. Reluctant, struggling, and even avid readers will find inspiration and lessons of courage.



Dennis Henderson, Jo Anne Nelson, Alex Robertson, and Principal Stacey Day

Alex Robertson, Mercer County High School, Aledo (1)

Can you remember the excitement you felt when getting your driver’s license for the first time? Everyday my students ask when they will get their driver’s license. I feel that it is not just my job, it is my responsibility, to teach every student to be diligent and mindful drivers to ensure safety on the roads that we all share. One way that I can make driver’s education classes more engaging is through the use of magnetic traffic boards.



Jo Anne Nelson, Mike Schmidt, Mike Daly, Gloria Zentic, and John Flaherty

Gloria Zentic, Blackhawk Area Special Education Center, East Moline (1)

The physical education instructors budget for physical education is $0.00. I selected (as a volunteer) the items I chose because of the high range of ages the physical education teachers teach (ages 3 - 22) and the wide range of physical ability among their students (autistic through severe and profound). The items I selected are highly needed and can be used by all their students, and are appropriate for all abilities and ages.

Dr. John Carlton, Fred Kunz, Brian Zimmerman, Norman Alpers, and Principal Eric Flohr

Brian Zimmerman, Hononegah Community High School, Rockton (1)
Students with impaired vision or students that have difficulty using a traditional microscope will find it easier and acquire the same skills by utilizing a Digital microscope with an attached 3.5" LCD screen (about the size of a cell phone screen). In my department (Science), we frequently encounter students that have struggled to properly view microscopic organisms/objects within the microscope lab activity and they lose interest very quickly and become frustrated. Some have a fear of putting their eye that close to the ocular lens due to glasses or contacts. By utilizing 3 digital microscopes with screens, students will be able to manipulate the objective lenses and dial in the course and fine adjustment to properly view micro-organisms and they, their classmates, and instructors will be able to see that they have accomplished this task to view the intended object or organism.

Wendy Wiegers, Stefanie Beane, Principal Akemi Sessler, and Bob Kaplan

Stefanie Beane, Dryden Elementary School, Arlington Heights (2)
In building our school's STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math) capacity, Cubelets would be a wonderful addition to encourage strategic tinkering, programmatic thinking, and problem solving. Even students who are too young to have developed strong abstract reasoning can “code” with Cubelets blocks without needing to use a computer interface. Because Cubelets are designed with three types of blocks (SENSE, THINK, and ACT), students learn the importance of inputs and outputs, weighted averages, persevering through a rapid redesign process, and “making” towards a goal. As students grow and become more complex computer scientists, Cubelets Blockly is introduced to encourage further coding skills.

Diane Bilcer, Chaya Rubenstein (North Lake Shore Unit Co-President), and Principal Jessica Hutchison

Diane Bilcer, Avoca West Elementary, Glenview (2)
I am planning to build a library that specializes in books that meet the unique academic level and maturity needs of our advanced readers in the primary grades. Advanced primary students read at levels that are more consistent with students 2-3 grade levels above, meaning the content in these more challenging books is not always appropriate for their age. The library will contain six copies of these carefully-selected books for teachers to use with small groups of students or with individuals.

Maggie Jensen, Wendy Wiegers, and Principal Diana Frisbie

Maggie Jensen, Olson Elementary School, Woodstock (2)
As a choice for assessing understanding in various subjects, students may create a video which is downloaded into a green screen application. The use of a digital camera which also has video capabilities will allow students to tape their scripted performance assessment as well as add images to the final project.

Bob Kaplan, Wendy Wiegers, Alison Leja, and Principal Mary Botterman

Alison Leja, Buzz Aldrin Elementary, Schaumburg (2)
I would like to purchase a new mailbox for my students to use in the classroom. I currently have a mailbox that is made of cardboard and was handed down to me by another teacher. It is falling apart and does not work very well for my students. The mailbox that I am looking to purchase is made of wood so that it can be used each year.

Principal Carol Bennet, Carol Link, Cathy Von Ehrenkrook, and Kelly Olson

Carol Link, Lincoln Early Learning Center, Mundelein (2)
Our students with autism require vestibular sensory input throughout their day to enable them to be available to learn. Our classroom is typically given 1/2 hour per day to utilize our playground when weather permits. Our students would greatly benefit if they had access to a swing in their classroom throughout the class day. Thank you for considering our request.

Assistant Superintendent Barbara Watson and Ailey Logan

Ailey Logan, Fairhaven School (SEDOL Sector), Mundelein (2)
Young children learn by playing and doing. Through dramatic play children learn about themselves and the world, work out scary, confusing and new issues, develop thinking strategies, communication skills, develop other perspectives and synthesize knowledge from other areas, like math and writing. By providing my Special Education preschoolers, whose skills vary greatly, with The Pretend & Play Market, gives them an opportunity to grow in all of these areas, at their own pace, with friends, through PLAY.

Rhonda Malina and Administrative Assistant Jessica Flores

Rhonda Malina, Elementary North, Vernon Hills (2)
I would like to purchase a social express membership so that I can use their online programs with students to work on their social and emotional skills. As is described on their website, the membership offers "research-based animated interactive lessons encouraging users to practice real-life social interactions." This would be a great addition to the materials that I use for social-emotional lessons with my kindergarten and first-grade students.

Bob Kaplan, Kate Ruiz, and Wendy Wiegers

Kate Ruiz, Winston Campus Junior High, Palatine (2)
This past school year, my 8th-grade Robotics classes began a collaboration project with the local high school Robotics classes. Our students participate in a VEX Robotics Competition called Swept Away, where students have to design, build, and program robots that move smaller soccer balls and footballs to the other side of a fence and score balls in goals. The robots students build have to be made within certain constraints and following specific criteria, and teams will have to problem solve any issues that arise with their robots by using 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. This project requires the high school students to mentor the junior high students on the design process and also exposes our junior high students to the opportunities available for classes in high school, particularly in the area of Applied Technology. 

Jennifer Klein (Simon) and Administrative Assistant Jessica Flores

Jennifer Simon, Hawthorn Elementary North, Vernon Hills (2)
I recently read a book titled, The Wild Card. In this book, it encouraged teachers to bring engagement and creativity into their classroom, through lessons and activities that are fun, but also rigorous. Something that I have wanted to bring into my classroom for a long time is the aspect of escape rooms for this reason. The escape room is not simply one project for one subject, however, something I would be able to use and implement throughout the entire year.

Wendy Wiegers and Laura Sutton

Laura Sutton, Special Education District of Lake County, Gages Lake (2)
Teaching special students the art of cooking. Part of self care skills, being able to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for themself is crucial in the learning process. Learning to cook is a skill that students will use for the rest of their lives!



Superintendent Amy Smith, Elizabeth Wheeler, Principal Jim Still, and Tom Meade

Elizabeth Wheeler, Newark Community High School, Newark (2)
Young adult writer Jason Reynolds recently discussed the disconnect between literature and our students in an interview. He questioned the literary canon, encouraging high school teachers to infuse their curriculum with engaging contemporary works with similar themes to classic as a bridge for reluctant readers. I'm eager to add classroom and small group sets of brilliant and thoughtful YA novels to my classroom, such as Kekla Magoon's "How It Went Down." I bought six copies this past semester for one of my courses, and students who said they had not read a novel since 6th grade eagerly read. I want more of those authentic, engaging experiences for my students.

Assistant Principal Sunny Morley, Andrea Woods, and Wendy Wiegers

Andrea Woods, Big Hollow Elementary School, Ingleside (2)
The IRTA grant would be used to create literacy sets of picture books used to enhance the instruction of the state’s social/emotional standards. Picture books attract children, communicate ideas, and help them connect to the real life struggles all children face while in school. The read aloud is one of the single most important things a teacher does during the school day, and children are more likely to internalize the lessons taught because they come from the adults who care so much about them. If we are about anything in education it MUST be about developing, teaching, and viewing the child as a whole person with needs in both the academic and social/emotional realms; sharing a book is a way to reach the hearts of our children.

Jan Bryant, Aman Aulakh, and Amanda Klousnitzer-Hutchens

Aman Aulakh, Leal Elementary, Urbana (3)
Next year, I want to teach guided reading to my fifth graders utilizing multicultural literature books to increase global awareness of other cultures, and novels that promote social emotional growth. Reading books where strong characters overcome obstacles provides an opportunity for dialogue in literature groups and can promote active problem solving in the lives of my students.

Ata Bird and Jan Bryant

Ata Bird, Paxton Buckley Loda Junior High, Paxton (3)
Students at Paxton Buckley Loda Junior High School will be able to extend their learning and understanding by accessing ebooks with content to enhance learning.

Jan Bryant, Raymond Cannon, Principal Craig Bennett, and Superintendent John Langton

Raymond Cannon, Indian Trail Junior High School, Addison (3)
This grant will allow us to purchase a communication system that will work with our current AV equipment. It will allow students to communicate at a distance during school events. Furthermore, it will greatly improve the quality of the recordings that we can make for school functions.

Assistant Principal Colin Flaherty, Cathryn Harshman, and Jan Bryant

Cathryn Harshman, Milford High School, Milford (3)
Milford High School would like to create a Spanish-language library for use across the Spanish department. Students already spend a lot of time reading in class, but studies show free and voluntary reading is much more effective in developing long-term language skills. To that end, we will need a large collection of Spanish-language books to provide plenty of variety to keep our young readers interested and engaged.

Jan Bryant, Robert Mohr, Ray Kaufman, and Principal Marjorie Triche

Robert Mohr, Crete-Monee High School, Crete (3)
I am starting a Multi-Cultural Choir here in our diverse school. I would like the funds to purchase multi-cultural instruments that the students can use to enhance our musical experience and musical performances.

Principal Dr. Catherine Eads (accepting award for Kris Muehlher) and Jan Bryant

Kris Muehlher, Mary Miller Junior High, Georgetown (3)
Our library was in very desperate condition. A group of teacher and administrator volunteers has recently made the library more inviting and updated; sending the message that reading is important to us. What we need is funding for new books that fit students' interests.

Jan Bryant, Kristen Strunga, and Principal Eric Free

Kristen Strunga, Salt Fork North Elementary, Catlin (3)
While so much effort has been put toward offering our students rigorous curriculum and comprehensive interventions, enrichment has often been left out of the equation. I want to develop problem-solvers who can work independently and collaboratively. STEM is a way to bridge the gap of offering enrichment to my second graders while also helping them to become better problem-solvers. STEM bins offer a quick way for students to get materials in their hands on a daily basis.

Jan Bryant, Laura Wollenzien, and Principal Yesenia Vasquez

Laura Wollenzien, Madison Elementary School, Lombard (3)
I am applying for a grant to provide STEM building and construction kits to my students. My second-grade bilingual students come from extremely disadvantaged homes (100% of them are on free-and-reduced lunch) and have never had the opportunity to even play with Legos, K'Nex, or toys similar to those being requested. In order to provide my students with the invaluable exposure to such experiences and better align instructional activities with Next Generation Science Standards, I would like to acquire the requested materials for my students' use.

Donna Sargent, Trista Barrett, and Principal Mekelle Heatherly

Trista Barrett, Virginia CUSD #64; A-C Central CUSD #262, Virginia (4)
Grammar is a critical component of every day oral and written communication. For most children, the rules of the English language are naturally learned through observation of other speakers. However, for those with syntax- and morphology- based communication impairments, therapeutic intervention is required to develop the skills essential to becoming effective speakers and writers.

Donna Sargent, Barbara Burns, and Principal Ryan Peyton

Barbara Burns, Ruth M. Schneider Elementary, Farmer City (4)
I receive $75 per school year to use for instructional supplies. I am writing this grant application in hopes of purchasing books to use to meet ESL Standard RL.2.2, which requires students to recount/compare stories from diverse cultures to determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

Donna Sargent, Debbie Eytchison, and Principal Dustin Day

Debbie Eytchison, Waverly Unit District #6, Waverly (4)
We recently started an anatomy & physiology class. Due to the lack of funds, I purchased small anatomical models for use in our laboratory activities. These have proven inadequate as they are too small and not of good quality. I would like to use this grant to purchase life-size anatomical models that can be manipulated without falling apart!

Donna Sargent and Laura Finch

Laura Finch, Dallas City Elementary School, Dallas City (4)
Hands-on science is the key to capturing students' imagination and motivation toward our Next Generation Science Standards. This grant will be used to foster the motivation of our students' excitement as they work in a STEM room lab setting using microscopes to investigate small objects and structures.

Donna Sargent, Rachelle Fretueg, and Principal Marcie Wort

Rachelle Fretueg, Webster Elementary, Rushville (4)
My students need access to quality picture books that help them see strong female characters, teach empathy and kindness, and share diversity through characters that reflect experiences they can connect to.

Sharon Urban, Michelle Harrison, Donna Sargent, and Principal Kyra Fancher

Michelle Harrison, Midwest Central Middle School, Green Valley (4)
The Holocaust can be an emotional and complex topic to cover in the classroom. Using picture books as both read alouds and in small groups will allow my students to gain an understanding and build background knowledge about the Holocaust. The books chosen touch on a variety of aspects of the Holocaust.

Donna Sargent, Danley Killam, and Dave Jokisch

Danley Killam, Carlinville Intermediate School, Carlinville (4)
The Makeblock Robotics project will enhance STEAM curriculum within Carlinville Intermediate School 5th grade classrooms. Students will be able to use the Robot Stem Kits to explore engineering, coding, and computer programming in the classroom. Students will be able to collaborate as a team to explore, create, design, and code the robots in multiple different ways. This will allow students to lead their own education through inquiry-based learning.

Dave Jokisch, Donna Sargent, Cathy Kulenkamp, and Principal Elise Schwartz 

Cathy Kulenkamp, Carlinville Primary School, Carlinville (4)
The IRTAF grant will create an opportunity to learn about Veterans Day and Memorial Day. We will have our own Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Ride in our rural farming community to honor men and women in the armed forces for Veterans Day.

Sharon Urban, Donna Sargent, Suzanne LaFary, and Principal Staci Harper

Suzanne LaFary, Delavan Elementary School, Delavan (4)
Many of our state standards are asking our students to solve problems and think outside of the box. I would like to supply students with hands on Smart Games that will allow students to improve problem solving skills. The Smart Games can be completed individually or collaboratively. They also provide several levels of difficulty to challenge our higher level thinking students while boosting our struggling learners problem solving skills.

Supt. Tony Ingold, Donna Sargent, Taylor Long, Sharon Urban, and Principal Chris Kolowski

Taylor Long, PL Bolin Elementary, East Peoria (4)
I am asking for funds to enhance my small group instruction. We use carefully chosen picture books to study reading and writing skills and concepts that the students will then practice applying during their independent reading time. The picture books I have chosen for my year-long genre study project represent the wide variety of the students I teach so that they feel that they see themselves in the wonderful stories. The small dry erase board is necessary for small group instruction to share and show our thinking.

Donna Sargent, Kate O’Donnell, and Principal Trevor Chapman

Kate O'Donnell, Normal Community High School, Normal (4)
As our department is transitioning to foreign language acquisition through Comprehensible Input, this grant will provide funding for classroom novels, teacher guides, and student-friendly current events to help the students begin to read and understand a second language and connect with the world around them.

Donna Sargent, Heather Ramey, and Principal/Superintendent Laura Irwin

Heather Ramey, Chester East Lincoln Elementary, Lincoln (4)
I would like to receive funds to purchase guided reading leveled book sets/chapter book sets for my students to read during our literature discussion groups. Students benefit from reading the same book together and discussing the text in a group, so it is great to have many sets of different leveled books for all different reading levels.

Donna Sargent, Laurena Turner, and Principal Tammy Hermes

Laurena Turner, Waverly Elementary School, Waverly (4)
Technology is the future. I would like to purchase three Chromebooks for my classroom. We use Chromebooks daily in my classroom. I do not have enough for everyone to use a Chromebook at the same time.

Donna Sargent and Lisa Welker 

Lisa Welker, Lewistown Jr/Sr High School, Lewistown (4)
My ceramics program would be enhanced by a pottery wheel to complement the hand-building processes I already teach. Students would learn valuable skills while producing practical, functional ceramics pieces. In addition, there aren't enough ceramics tools for each student to complete a project; therefore, the additional ceramics supplies would increase the productivity of their projects.

Principal Kristin Nall, Dennis Hutchings, and Erin Barker

Erin Barker, Atwood-Hammond Grade School, Atwood (5)
The Social Language Development Test–Elementary: Normative Update (SLDT-E: NU) assesses language-based skills pertaining to social interpretation and interaction with friends. These skills are found to be most predictive of social language development. Specifically, it measures the language necessary to appropriately infer and express what other people are thinking or feeling within a social context, to make multiple interpretations, take mutual perspectives, and negotiate with and support their peers. These tasks reflect the developmental refinement of social language comprehension and expression and differentiate typically developing children from those with autism spectrum disorder.

Sheri Cooper and Principal Victoria Norton

Sheri Cooper, Martinsville Elementary School, Martinsville (5)
We are preparing students today for jobs that are not even created yet. It amazes me that I can look at these young first grade minds and see their creative wheels thinking unafraid to try and challenge themselves to create a new way to do even everyday tasks. In purchasing STEM Stations, I will be able to provide my kids with tools and pieces so that they can explore, learn, create, and be the inventors they already are.

Principal Sage Hale, Dennis Hutchings, and Amber Crothers

Amber Crothers, Arthur Grade School, Arthur (5)
This grant request is for updated assessments and materials targeting language disorders. The Language Processing Test, Language Processing Treatment Activities and Differential Processes Training books are excellent tools for diagnosing and treating students with communication disorders that may limit academic success in the public school setting. These resources will help the SLP better serve students with speech and language impairments.

Brenda Foster and Elementary Principal Daniel Huffman

Brenda Foster, Cumberland Middle School, Toledo (5)
This project is designed to foster a love of reading in middle school students while inspiring a passion for equality and human rights. Dystopian novels will be the focus of reading for deeper meaning and examining the authors’ commentary on modern society. Students will read their self-selected book while frequently participating in small group discussions centering on current societal trends that are portrayed in the book and viewing the story’s protagonist as a leader of social rebellion. Students will gain an awareness of government propaganda, restricted freedoms, and inequalities of citizens drawing comparisons to today’s society.

Principal Travis Wyatt, Tonya Hall, and Jane Casey

Tonya Hall, Newton Elementary, Newton (5)
Fifth grade students would use wastewater kits to learn about wastewater remediation and how individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments due to climate change.

Tina Hausmann

Tina Hausmann, East Prairie Middle School, Tuscola (5)
I would like a classroom set of Orbiting Jupiter to teach in my literature class. I currently have to rely on ordering a classroom set in from the school's online library. I can only keep those books a few weeks at a time before I am required to return them and order different ones in.

Gena Johnson and Principal Carla Carter

Gena Johnson, BOOTH Elementary School, Enfield (5)
My project will allow my students the opportunity to put on their thinking caps and explore the contents of a variety of scientific areas. They will be able to explore hands on about how a specific animal will develop or even look like on the inside. Scientific experiences are all about getting the students involved and excited about the wonderful world of science!

Principal Casie Bowman and Jaclyn Nelson

Jaclyn Nelson, Mulberry Grove Elementary School, Mulberry Grove (5)
The Expanding Expressions Tool (EET) provides a hands-on structured approach to describing and defining. It facilitates improvement of vocabulary skills, common core learning objectives, comprehension of curriculum material, report writing, and expressive language.

Ron O’Hearn 

Ron O'Hearn, North Ward Elementary, Tuscola (5)
The Magnet Kits will enhance the Magnet and Friction Units in our Science curriculum. It will allow our students to have hands on experiences with the theories they are learning. The kits will be utilized by four different third grade classes for a period of four weeks each. The kits will be used on a daily bases during this time on multiple different experiments.

Lauren Voglken, Lauren Hahn, Amanda O’Regan, and Principal Eric Swingler

Amanda O'Regan, Greenville Elementary School, Greenville (5)
The mission of the BCCU2 Weekend Backpack Program is to pick up where federal and state government-funded meal programs fall short, in that they provide no benefit to the students on Saturday, Sunday, or holiday weekends. Our program provides students with kid-friendly, individually packaged food items that are easy to prepare, even without a stove or other equipment. It is the ultimate goal of the BCCU2 Weekend Backpack Program to nourish not only the bodies of some of its most vulnerable students, but also their minds. We are currently serving 60 students and we look to expand our reach continually as our program develops.

Principal Victoria Norton and Dana Poston 

Dana Poston, Martinsville Elementary School, Martinsville (5)
It is my hope to be able to study the life cycle of a chicken with my class by doing a hands on project. The local farmers would donate eggs to the class and we would place them in an incubator and hatch them. I would also candle the eggs so that the students are able to see the stages as the chicken develops over the course of the 21 day period. 

Principal Eric Hurelbrink, Sheila Rappe, and Jim Barr

Sheila Rappe, Meridian High School, Macon (5)
The study of genetics is vital to understanding the continuing advances in biological research. These laboratory activities will provide hands-on experience and understanding of human inheritance, DNA isolation, genetically modified organisms, and recombinant DNA procedures. Many of our advanced science students plan careers in the field of science and pre-college experience with these STEM activities, which will help them to realize the depth of genetic applications in their chosen fields.

Kathy Richardson, Kaci Richardson, and Teresa Maguire

Kaci Richardson, New Hope School, Fairfield (5)
The second grade classroom is an environment rich with hands-on learning experiences. The proposed project includes several lessons requiring additional resources and materials in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students will learn how to use the new tools and complete enrichment activities to strengthen the curriculum.

Principal Sarah Emery and Michaela Smith

Michaela Smith, Grayville High School, Grayville (5)
This grant would give the Grayville Agriculture Education program the opportunity to teach students electricity by using hands on teaching methods in the classroom. The equipment will be used for years to come and by several different students. This could be the gateway to students becoming more independent or even possibly entering into a career in electricity.

Principal Paul Hoffman, Kristina Valentine, and Jim Barr

Kristina Valentine, Warrensburg-Latham Middle School, Warrensburg (5)
This project incorporates hands-on tasks in order to teach about food safety and proper food handling instructions. Using a Real Career Food and Safety kit allows for students to use scenarios as a way to learn about the safe ways to handle foods to prevent cross contamination, food borne illnesses and how to safely handle foods in the kitchen.

Joyce Tappy, Kimberly Bohnenstiehl, Bill Funkhouser, and Fred Bloss

Kimberly Bohnenstiehl, Parkside Primary Center, Bethalto (6)
I would love to have a garden with my students. I would start it before the end of school next year and plant things that grow fast (ex. asparagus, lettuce).

Bill Funkhouser, Eric Chrostoski, Principal Dustin Foutch, and Kelley Kesterson

Eric Chrostoski, Central Community High School, Breese (6)
Our music department needs an additional set of orchestral bells and a small set of classroom practice pads for our newly implemented percussion class.

Principal Mark Laster, Shelly Clark, and Bonnie Holman

Shelly Clark, Anna CC District #37, Anna (6)
I am interested in purchasing 3 Chrome Books for use by students who are both socioeconomically and educationally disadvantaged. Students will use the Chrome Books to practice math and reading skills to help shrink the gap that exists in their academic performance when compared with their same age peers. The addition of the Chrome Books will help support the use of technology which will enhance student growth through innovation in the classroom, help build accountability, aide in building strong citizenship skills, and add to community involvement and commitment through stronger job skills and work ethics. The overall goal of academic performance will help students become productive, confident members of the community we are serving.

Bonnie Holman, Grace Darmour-Paul, Scott Finders, Superintendent Rob White, and Principal Brett Detering

Grace Darmour-Paul, Anna-Jonesboro High School, Anna (6)
World Language teachers are moving away from traditional grammar-based teaching that focuses on conjugating verbs, learning rules, and memorizing vocabulary to a more interactive and natural approach called Comprehensible Input. Comprehensible Input is defined as meaningful interaction in the target language that can be understood despite not understanding all the words and structures in it. This grant would allow me to use more Comprehensible Input as a teacher and would allow my students to acquire Spanish more naturally, through reading novels and storytelling in the classroom.

Principal Bryce Jerrell, Darin DeNeal, and Mark York

Darin DeNeal, Carrier Mills-Stonefort High School, Carrier Mills (6)
The project proposal is for a hydroponics garden. This will allow my horticulture class to grow vegetables year round. This is very helpful, since the outdoor growing season takes place mostly in the summer.

Bill Funkhouser, Megan Kehrer, Kelley Kesterson, and Principal Angela Woll

Megan Kehrer, Trenton Elementary, Trenton (6)
This project is to help students in an early childhood special education classroom improve each of their fine motor skills in preparation for Kindergarten. We are requesting the purchase of durable wooden puzzles to help increase these much needed fine motor skills. The puzzles that have been selected will also allow for further individualization to help each individual child be successful.

Bill Funkhouser, Mary May, April Linley, Principal Andrew Gipson, and Fred Bloss

April Linley, N.O. Nelson Elementary, Edwardsville (6)
Annually, our district enrolls newcomer ELLs with strong academic skills, but low English proficiency levels. These students, more than anything, want to fit in with their peers, especially at the upper elementary levels. This leads them to choose the same grade level chapter books their friends are choosing, even though the books are beyond their English proficiency level for reading, because they perceive picture books or lower level books as being for "little kids." Purchasing a library of the Scholastic Branches series of books for our ELL students will help Edwardsville District #7 ELL students bridge the gap between beginning level books and higher level chapter books, and help them feel equal to their peers, while also giving them access to high quality reading selections that allow them to increase their English reading comprehension.

Jamie Nash-Mayberry and Bonnie Holman

Jamie Nash-Mayberry, Shawnee High School, Wolf Lake (6)
The "Save the Levees, Save the Future" project is in its 8th year at Shawnee High School, in which Juniors and Seniors raise awareness of the deteriorating levees that protect their school from the Mississippi River, and research ways to reduce flooding. They then educate state and federal politicians on the results of their research through face to face presentations, making a movie, writing letters, and they also work with local levee commissioners to help solve flooding problems. Their efforts have helped to improve the levees but there is still much work to be done, so the project must continue.

Principal Mark Laster, Joshua Shearer, and Bonnie Holman

Joshua Shearer, Anna District 37, Anna (6)
I am seeking funding to procure an adequate display system for my students work. The Pro Panel Display System is ideal for setting up professional looking art shows in my building. The lightweight panels will allow me to have art shows that travel the community sharing the talent of the area's youth with the community at large.

Principal Amy Price and Amanda Wetzler

Amanda Wetzler, Sparta Lincoln School, Sparta (6)
I am requesting the materials to build an Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox. This sandbox would allow students to see, in real-time, the changes of the Earth’s topography. This will help build geography skills by reinforcing ideas about land and water features (peninsula, island, lake, etc.) This will also reinforce the learning in the science curriculum as it deals with earth science concepts. Students will also be able to witness, first-hand, how we can use everyday technologies, like projectors and kinects, to create something truly amazing.

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