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WISD Education Foundation awards more than $142,000 in scholarships and grant funding

WACO, Texas – Throughout the month of June, the Waco ISD Education Foundation was surprising teachers and graduates with funding for scholarships and innovative grants. Before the end of the school year, the Foundation’s SurPRIZE Patrol visited 15 Waco ISD campuses to surprise 27 teachers with the news that their grant applications were approved for funding for the 2021-2022 school year. This year, the Foundation is awarding $119,724 back to the district, bringing the total funded to more than $1.9 million over the past decade and a half. Additionally, eight Waco ISD seniors were awarded $22,500 in scholarship funding.

Innovative Grants 

District teachers and staff had the opportunity to apply for funding through the foundation’s Innovative Grants program beginning earlier in the spring semester. 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 molecular gastronomy, gardening and virtual reality to murals, coding and engineering, philanthropy through libraries and even ukuleles.

Taylor Bledsoe, chairman of the Waco ISD Education Foundation Board of Directors and vice president of Sturdisteel, participated in the surprise announcements.

“This is an exciting day we always look forward to, and we were thrilled to get to be back on campus surprising teachers in person this year,” Bledsoe stated. “This past year has been hard for educators and students, but seeing the smiles and excitement from our teachers reaffirmed why we do what we do. I’m consistently proud to be a product of Waco ISD and to have the opportunity to continue to support our teachers and students.”

Dr. Susan Kincannon, Waco ISD’s superintendent, also participated in the campus visits. “We know that educational success doesn’t happen in isolation, but it shines most when our teachers bring forth their best ideas, our students engage and our community supports us,” Kincannon said. “The grants program through our education foundation brings all three things together in a way that really helps to showcase innovative ideas, creative approaches to learning and community investment. I continue to be impressed by the multitude of ways our Waco community of stakeholders chooses to support our teachers and students and our district goals.”

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.

Since 2006, the Foundation has raised funds for its grant programs through the H-E-B Celebrity Cookoff, which was forced into a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, but plans to return in 2022.

Class of 2021 Scholarships

The scholarship presentations included those managed by the Waco ISD Education Foundation -- the prestigious Dorothy Crippen Hurd Scholarship, Kenneth B. Esterak Memorial Scholarships, Louise DuPuy Memorial Scholarship, Kenneth A. Love Memorial Scholarship, Bill Davenport Scholarship and a new Matthew Barrera Memorial Scholarship. The Waco Public Schools Alumni Association also awarded scholarships to students from both schools.

The Dorothy Crippen Hurd Scholarship awards $10,000 over a four-year period to a Waco High graduate ranked in the top 5% of his or her class with proven leadership and community volunteerism.

The Kenneth B. Esterak Memorial Scholarships are awarded to Waco High graduates who will be attending Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin.

Former mayor and longtime education supporter Virginia DuPuy presented the $2,500 scholarship given by the Cary DuPuy family in honor of the late Louise DuPuy, a longtime WISD educator and grandmother to Cary.

A memorial scholarship was established with the Waco ISD Education Foundation in 2016 in memory of Kenneth A. Love, the late son of Waco ISD Athletic Director Ed Love and his wife, Dortheia, who presented the scholarship to this year’s recipient. 

This year, a new memorial scholarship was established and sponsored by the family of Matthew Barrera, a 2005 graduate of Waco High School. Diane Barrera, Matthew’s mother, was present to award the scholarship in its first year.

Before his retirement in 2018, Bill Davenport served in a leadership role with H-E-B for 29 years, with 17 years in Waco alone. In 2006, Bill, along with the Waco ISD Education Foundation, helped to found the H-E-B Celebrity Cookoff, an annual event that raises funds for innovative grants in Waco ISD classrooms. Bill continued to participate in the planning of the event and served as a celebrity chef each year. Over its 13 years including Bill's involvement, the H-E-B Celebrity Cookoff cumulatively raised more than one million dollars for the Waco ISD Education Foundation.

H-E-B chose to celebrate Davenport and his years of service by funding a scholarship named in his honor for Waco ISD seniors who are also partners at H-E-B and demonstrated academic success, involvement in school activities and programs, and an active role in community service. The $1,000 annual scholarship will be awarded through 2022. Bill Davenport participated in the announcement at the recipient's store, H-E-B Waco 8.

This year’s scholarship recipients will be attending McMurray University, Baylor University, Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin.

Lists of grant and scholarship recipients can be found below, and photos are available at the following links:

2021-2022 Innovative Grants Photo Album
Class of 2021 Scholarships Photo Album

2021-2022 Innovative Grant Recipients

Alta Vista Elementary School

“Can You See It Now?”
Peter Holmstrom

“Here Comes Da “Boom!”: Hear It, See It – Know It, Show It!”
Melanie Spark & Rebecca Maynard

“The Power of PBL”
Jo Spark

Bell’s Hill Elementary School

“An Apple a Day Brings Creativity to Stay”
Marilissa Young

“Uke Got the Music in You”
Mary Katheryn Clark

Cedar Ridge Elementary School

“Stronger Together, One Generation at a Time”
Erin Lange & Kim Granger

Dean Highland Elementary School

“Tinker with a Purpose!”
Kenneth Rodriguez

G.W. Carver Middle School

“You Mean I Can Draw in Math?”
Stephanie Marsteller

Hillcrest Professional Development School

“Empower Hour”
Dana Telep & Melissa Heltenberg

“Music to Our Ears”
Paula Hoover

J.H. Hines Elementary School

“For Those About to Rock”
Dr. Travis Horton & Robert Malave

Lake Air Montessori Magnet School

“Giving Students a Lens Up”
Ruzica Norwood

Mountainview Elementary School

“Innovation Empire”
Jennifer Davidson

Provident Heights Elementary School

“Come on Baby, Light My Feier(abend)”
Katie Forbis

South Waco Elementary School

“Let’s Get the Wiggles Out”
Barbara Redenius

“Nina’s Garden”
Becky Aldridge & Gloria Garcia

Tennyson Middle School

“Computing Across the Curriculum”
Leslie Cannon

“Texans MakerSpace”
Leslie Cannon

“High 5 VR Style: Real World Immersive Learning”
Laurie Beth Harris

University High School

“Kitchen of the Future”
Reannon Ruark & Michael Osborne

“MPR: Making Piano Practice Possible”
Lucy Murphy & Clinton Barrineau

“Plugged In – Amplifying Choir with Recording Technology”
Clinton Barrineau & Lucy Murphy

“Wall Street on New Road”
Teresa Nors

Waco High School

“Community Murals & Mosaics”
Hope Gereghty & Joel Colosimo

“The Magic of Reading”
Alissa Keen

West Avenue Elementary School

“Reading All Day in a Musical Way”
Cheryl McIlwain

“The Reading Lounge”
Talisa Krumnow & Michelle Krug

Class of 2021 Scholarship Recipients

Dorothy Crippen Hurd Scholarship - $10,000
Jacqueline Grimaldo – Waco High School

Louise DuPuy Memorial Scholarship - $2,500
Vanessa Williams – Waco High School

Matthew Barrera Memorial Scholarship - $2,500
Angel Sanchez – Waco High School

Kenneth A. Love Memorial Scholarship - $1,000
Trenton Freeman – Waco High School

Bill Davenport Scholarship (sponsored by H-E-B) - $1,000
Katelyn Eusebio – Waco High School

Kenneth B. Esterak Memorial Scholarship – The University of Texas at Austin - $2,500
Jon Martinez – Waco High School

Kenneth B. Esterak Memorial Scholarship – Texas A&M University - $2,500
Vanessa Williams – Waco High School 

Waco Public Schools Alumni Association - $500 each
Michael Aguilar – Waco High School
Genesis Santos – University High School

July 1, 2021