Over 30 teachers at Jourdanton ISD received a surprise announcement on May 19 from the Jourdanton Education Foundation. They learned they were the recipients of seven Innovative Teacher Grants. Together these grants total $14,935.
The special presentation took place at the JISD Early Childhood Center Cafeteria with award recipients, JISD Superintendent Theresa McAllister and other board members on hand.
This year’s grants that were awarded and the recipients include:
•What Does the Box Say?
Kindergarten, $1,500 to Coree Field, Anna Garcia, Diana Calvillo, Lisa Nixon, Cindy Ramos and Lindy Vickers.
•Google Augmented Reality
Elementary, $3,000 to Librarian Deana Cook.
•Children’s Dictionary for Reading/Writing Improvement
First Grade, $815 to Martha Gonzalez, Jayti Hamby, Kim Kelley, Samantha Baker, Schellie Villarreal and Desiree Wilburn.
Third Grade, $1,500 to Holley Bailey, Maggie Isaac, Heather Halfmann, Allison Swientek, Marla Rankin and Paula Palk.
Eleventh Grade, $2,000 to Faith Andrus, Marielle Sekula, Kimberly Glenn, Robert Chaney and Susan Ratliff.
•Literacy for Leaders
Sixth Grade, $3,000 to Christina Gallegos and Janie Lugo.
•Engaging 21st Century Learners
Fifth Grade, $3,120 to Christie Escobar, Susan Pierce, Andrew Camp, Martha Huckleberry, Melissa Glasscock and Texana Woodward.
“The Jourdanton Education Foundation and their board members are highly dedicated and motivated in their efforts to support JISD staff and students,” said JISD Superintendent Theresa McAllister. “JISD has entertained the idea of forming a foundation for several years and all these wonderful people in our community had the vision to make it happen.”
McAllister added, “The recipients of the Innovative Teacher Grants were so excited and thankful for the funds to help support their students in the classroom. We look forward to working with JEF for years to come – great things will come out of this partnership!”
JEF Board President Stephanie Collins explained the teachers submitted their applications just before spring break, for new ideas in the classroom and innovative ways they can improve education to a large group of students. There were 10 applications total.
“We were able to approve seven based on criteria and available funds that we had this year. The event we had on Tuesday last week was to acknowledge those grant recipients and provide them with their award,” said Collins.
With the quarantine, the foundation was unsure of how or when they were going to make the presentation. On May 19 each group of teachers came under the guise that they were being interviewed for their grant application.
After teachers were told it was a tough year and all of the recipients couldn’t be awarded, the curtains were opened, music was played and the teachers were surprised.
“Some teachers got really teary-eyed. Some were really excited,” Collins said. “I think we fooled quite a few. It was really fun actually. We had a good time.”
Collins shared that some of the teachers applied as a group.
“So that money is going to the one project, but all of those teachers contributed to the application and will benefit from the money,” Collins said.
For example, one of the applications was for Versa- Tiles, a self-check puzzle system for children to put together and solve problems. All of the teachers in that grade level will benefit from it, shared Collins, as each will have a set number in their classroom.
“I think in total, there is enough for half of the grade level. So the teachers can utilize it. Say one teacher wants to use it on Monday, she’ll have enough for every student in her class. So it benefits the whole grade level and the teachers have worked a system out amongst themselves to coordinate how to use it,” Collins said.
Teacher Coree Field spoke on the amazing grant the kindergarten department received for “What Does the Box Say?”
“The grant is for listening stations for each kindergarten classroom in which our students can listen to books on tape recorded by the authors, teachers, parents and community members. This wonderful award will have an immediate impact on our ability to encourage, support and engage our kindergarten students in the area of reading. We are so thankful and cannot wait to initiate our new equipment and program,” said Field.
One recipient at the high school level, English teacher Marielle Sekula said, “One of the opportunities I am most excited about for our students through this grant is when they’re able to find a book they love again. We talk in my room about books they loved as young children, and even my reluctant readers can remember certain books from school or home. I look forward to them finding that book in my room that they’ll remember reading as a teenager.”
Elementary teacher Deana Cook submitted an application for Google Augmented Reality, which will benefit the entire elementary.
Christie Escobar, a fifth grade teacher, said her team is incredibly grateful to have been awarded the grant.
“One of our biggest challenges as teachers is keeping our students engaged in the classroom and the funds from this grant will go towards additional Chromebooks to help us with this task. Having access to more technology will help students think more creatively and produce more innovative artifacts to showcase their knowledge. I am already planning lessons incorporating more technology! Thank you JEF,” Escobar said.
The Jourdanton Education Foundation board was established in November of 2019 and is a recognized non-profit organization.
“I’m pretty proud of ourselves because we really have only been fundraising since January, and really just a well-established organization since November,” said Collins.
She later added, “In less than a year, we’ve been able to give back just over $19,000 to the school, so it’s pretty exciting.”
The JEF board is comprised of: President- Stephanie Collins, Vice President of Programs- Jack Powell, Vice President of Development Katrina Wiatrek, Vice President of Marketing Tiffiney Willmon, Vice President of Finance/Governance Benita Muckleroy, Secretary- Kari Vickers, Director at Large- Eric Kaiser, Superintendent of Schools- Theresa McAllister and Board Members: Audrey McCleary, Tim Forest, Clemente Galindo, Tamara Rodriguez, Debra Swaim, Barbara Peeler, Michele Higginbotham, Ralph Ayala, Lori Steyn, Ed McClure, Mike Castellano, Lucina McCarthy, Diana Seiffert, Kelli Hindes, Amber Schorsch, Cody Orr, Maggie Aguilar, Michele Klumb, Jim Andrus, Trace Blair and Shellie Kaiser.
The public can donate by visiting the JEF website and either making a general donation, or one in honor of (or as a memoriam) to someone.
“We have received a few of those. We specifically did a memorial donation for Coach Danny Matocha when he passed away, but people can donate anytime they want. We received a couple of donations for Connie Nixon, who recently passed away,” said Collins.
It is one way to honor someone differently than sending flowers. When you make a donation, you are helping provide more opportunities for JISD students while supporting JISD educators.
“I’m really proud of our teachers, for the work that they put into these grants and I’m really excited for them. We’re going to have all of these materials purchased over the summer, so when they come back to school in the fall they’ll be able to have everything that they were awarded ready for their new classrooms,” said Collins. “Hopefully that really gets them going for the fall. This new semester I think everything is going to be a little bit different, but I’m hoping that having these new items will really inspire them and help them out a lot.”