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WISD Education Foundation awards $113,682 in innovative grants

The Waco ISD Education Foundation and its SurPRIZE Patrol visited 16 Waco ISD campuses Tuesday to surprise 26 teachers with the news that their grant applications were approved for funding for the 2019-2020 school year. This year, the foundation is awarding $113,682 back to the district, bringing the total funded to more than $1.7 million over the past decade and a half.

District teachers and staff had the opportunity to apply for funding through the foundation’s Innovative Grants program beginning this past fall. That program annually awards approximately $100,000 in grant funding in the four focus areas of early childhood development, enhanced programming for advanced students, extended education for staff, and emphasis on student performance.

This year’s grant projects span a wide array of topics and areas from engineering, coding and blended learning initiatives to the fine arts, literacy and augmented reality.

Taylor Bledsoe, chairman of the Waco ISD Education Foundation Board of Directors and vice president of Sturdisteel, was present for multiple grant surprises, including a grant for 3-D printers at Waco High School named in Sturdisteel’s honor.

“Each year, I’m amazed by the creativity and innovation shown through these grant applications. Our teachers have invested time and energy to research and develop plans for new and exciting ways to educate our students,” Bledsoe said. “Waco ISD continues to be a vital part of our community, and my family, our business and I are proud to continue to support the district’s and foundation’s efforts.”

In addition to district staff, foundation board members and committee members, today’s SurPRIZE Patrol also included representatives from some of the 18 local businesses and individuals that had a grant named in their honor based on their recent support of the 13th Annual H-E-B Celebrity Cookoff. Additionally, 10 guests, who were finalists in the Grand Prize Game, at the event also received a grant named in their honor.

Letters of intent and full applications are screened and scored by a committee comprised of members of the foundation’s board of directors and community volunteers. Applications are scored on various categories including rationale, goals, plan of operation, communication and long-term implications.

SurPrize Patrol with Crestview students

Pictured above: "iPads for Techminds of Music" - Matthew McMahon, Crestview Elementary - Named in honor of: TFNB - Your Bank for Life

Below is a list of the 26 grants, including the grant writer’s name and campus, title of the project, amount funded and named sponsor/honoree.

Ernest Amende
Indian Spring Middle
“Edge Reading” 
Named in honor of: Waco Motorsports

Yolanda Anzures & Lauren Reasor
Cedar Ridge Elementary 
“Who Shall I Be Today?”
Named in honor of: GoldStar Transit

Kandace Beckham
Greater Waco Advanced Healthcare Academy 
“Inside Out: A Virtual Human Body Exploration” 
Named in honor of: Ascension Providence

Jeff Bray 
Waco High 
“1, 2, 3D Print!” 
Named in honor of: Sturdisteel

Leslie Cannon
ATLAS Academy
“Botball Robotics-Let's Engage in STEAM” 
Named in honor of: City of Waco: Convention and Visitors Bureau

Leslie Cannon
ATLAS Academy
“Computing Across the Curriculum”
Named in honor of: Gina and Congressman Bill Flores

Larry Carpenter
Waco ISD Fine Arts
“Art Expedition: Bringing Art to Life by Bringing Art to Students” 
Named in honor of: H-E-B

Inga Chow-Monreal
J.H. Hines Elementary 
“Thinking OUT-side the Box” 
Named in honor of: Cargill

Marie Cleary
ATLAS Academy
“Transforming Lives One Page at a Time” 
Named in honor of: H&B Packing

Jorge De Alva Cardenas & Hayley Ballesteros
Provident Heights Elementary
“PreK Travels the Community” 
Named in honor of: Brad Crye

Carrie Forehand
Waco ISD Fine Arts
“ROCK in Our Li-bra-ry” 
Named in honor of: Keurig Dr Pepper

Meghan Green & Melissa Pritchard
Mountainview Elementary
“Pause for a Moment of Science” 
Named in honor of: Luwenda Pollard & Betty Haas

Erin Lange
Cedar Ridge Elementary
“An Active Path to Success” 
Named in honor of: Matt Rohrer

Caitlyn Layman & Anand Salodkar
University High
“An APple a Day” 
Named in honor of: Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram FIAT

Cheryl McIlwain & Tyeasa Thompson
West Avenue Elementary
“Trainin’ My Brain: Drummin’ and Dancin’” 
Named in honor of: Central National Bank

Matthew McMahon
Crestview Elementary
“iPads for Techminds of Music” 
Named in honor of: TFNB – Your Bank for Life

Destinee Mordecai & Daniel Renfro
Cesar Chavez Middle
“Topographic That” 
Named in honor of: Italian Granite

Elisha Oliver & Jessica Ellis
Kendrick Elementary
“Swifter Swivel”
Named in honor of: Mary Olivarez and Chief David Williams

M. Angelica Olvera
Provident Heights Elementary
“Shutterbug Photography” 
Named in honor of: Jeremy Vickers

Jeff Platt
Tennyson Middle / ATLAS Academy
“Students Achieve, Lives Transformed, Attitudes Changed, Connections Made Rachel's Challenge” 
Named in honor of: Educators Credit Union

Rebekah Raabe
Waco ISD Middle Schools
“Exploring the World Around Us” 
Named in honor of: Sally and Johnny Bledsoe

Kenneth Rodriguez
Dean Highland Elementary 
“Dream It, Design It, Built It” 
Named in honor of: Jamie Crow

Jo Sparks & Hannah Rawles
Alta Vista Elementary
“World Peace & Other 5th Grade Achievements” 
Named in honor of: Window World of Waco

Dana Telep
Hillcrest PDS Elementary
“Our Library: The Ultimate Transformer” 
Named in honor of: Lowe’s of Waco

James Villa
Tennyson Middle 
“Real Scientists Argue: Introducing Argument Driven Inquiry in Middle School Science” 
Named in honor of: John Lewis

Paula White & Jennifer Zane
Cedar Ridge Elementary
“Breaking Into Learning”
Named in honor of: Alicia Hodde