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Waco ISD Education Foundation SurPRIZE Patrol Awards $111,924

WACO, Texas – The Waco ISD Education Foundation and its SurPRIZE Patrol visited 12 Waco ISD campuses Tuesday to surprise 27 teachers with the news that their grant applications were approved for funding for the 2018-2019 school year. This year, the foundation is awarding $111,924 back to the district, bringing the total funded to more than $1.6 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 projects ranging from STEM, entrepreneurial and makerspace initiatives to the fine arts, composting and even goats.

Taylor Bledsoe, chairman of the foundation board and vice president of Sturdisteel, was on hand for multiple grant surprises, including a grant at Cedar Ridge Elementary School named in Sturdisteel’s honor.

“I’m a graduate of Waco ISD, as are my mom and my sister, and we continue to see the value in investing in our community, specifically in Waco ISD. We are always thrilled to serve as a sponsor of the WISD Education Foundation,” Bledsoe stated. “This year the Foundation was able to award almost $112,000 in grants that will benefit teachers and students across the district and provide teachers with unique opportunities to teach their students in creative and exciting ways. As a member of the local business community and an alumnus of Waco ISD, that’s a pretty exciting thing to be a part of.”

Dr. Marcus Nelson, Waco ISD’s superintendent, expressed his appreciation for the foundation’s support.

“The education foundation brings parents, businesses and community leaders together to make a difference for our students,” Nelson said. “These grants enrich the classroom experience for our students. They allow teachers to engage with the curriculum in innovative ways. These grants are proof that our community is invested in our schools and their students’ success.”

In addition to district staff, foundation board members and committee members, the SurPRIZE Patrol also included representatives from some of the 16 local businesses that had a grant named in their honor based on their recent contributions and support at the 12th Annual H-E-B Celebrity Cookoff.

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.

Below is a list of the 27 grants, including the primary grant writer’s name and campus, title of the project, amount funded and named sponsor, if applicable.

Chad Adkins
ATLAS Academy
“Break Out of the Box”

Noah Alvarado
Lake Air Montessori Magnet
“WISD MS Summer Band Camp”
Educators Credit Union

Angela Boettcher
Parkdale Elementary
“Navigating Through Non-Fiction”
Grand Canyon University

Marlayna Botello
University High
“Tomorrow Lab: An Innovation Studio”
Baylor University

Valerie Bravo
Provident Heights Elementary
“PreK Travels the Community”

Marie Cleary
Tennyson Middle
“Readers Today – Leaders Tomorrow”

Alison Davis
Lake Air Montessori Magnet
“It’s the Cycle That Never Ends”

Alison Davis
Lake Air Montessori Magnet
“No Goats, No Glory”
Lowe’s of Waco

Deborah DeGraff
Bell’s Hill Elementary
“Starry, Starry Night”

Esperanza Garza
Cedar Ridge Elementary
“The ‘Write’ Tools”

Carolyn Green
West Avenue Elementary
“MakeUrSpace: DIY Learning”
Central National Bank

Byron Griffin
Lake Air Montessori Magnet
“Composting Toward a Greener Campus”
H-E-B Plus!

Lindsey Helton
Alta Vista Elementary
“Makerspace: Raising the ‘Volume’ on Learning”
Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram

Lindsey Helton
Alta Vista Elementary
“Girl CODE”

Paula Hoover
Hillcrest PDS Elementary
“Do You Hear the Children Sing?”
Cargill Protein Group

Dr. Kathryn Hopkins
Waco High
“DNA Discovery”
DuPuy Oxygen & Supply

Laura Islas
Cedar Ridge Elementary
“Caving Into a Day Down Under”

Erin Lange
Cedar Ridge Elementary
“Making, Creating, Learning”


Justin Lindsay
University High
“The ‘U’ Haul”
Window World

Joy Marshall
Tennyson Middle
“Junior Musical Sound Expansion”

Angela Mendez
West Avenue Elementary
“It’s Cool to be Square”
H&B Packing

Lucy Murphy
University High
“Dinner and a Show”

Angelo Ochoa
University High
“A ‘Tax’ing Situation”
Sanderson Farms

Rebekah Raabe
Tennyson Middle/District
“Functional Field Trip”
GoldStar Transit

Daniel Renfro
Cesar Chavez Middle
“Let There Be 3D”
The McLeod Company

Jane Sykes
ATLAS Academy
NCI: Nature’s Classroom Institute
Dr Pepper Snapple Group

Rachel Webbon
Cedar Ridge Elementary
“STEMulate Young Minds”
Waco Motorsports