2022 IRTAF Grant Winners

This Fall, the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation (IRTAF) awarded 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.

Justine Davis, Oregon Elementary School, Oregon (1)

Since COVID, Chromebooks in the classroom have exploded in our district.  Students now have their own Chromebook, and I work to incorporate fun and engaging ways to use their devices in music class.  Music can be a noisy subject, and having proper headphones for each student ensures that students can explore music websites in a safe environment without distracting others.  Having a quality set of classroom headphones will ensure that all of my 460+ students will be able to participate in music listening activities while only needing to focus on the project instead of feeling discomfort because of ill-fitting headphones. 

Kim McKenna and Justine Davis

Jenna Dempsey, Dillon Primary School and Merrill Elementary School in Rock Falls District 13, Rock Falls (1)

Now is the time to gear up to be a SUPER SLEUTH! The mystery of math will be solved by you with your math skills, a secret code, and real-world problem solving skills! In addition, be ready to justify your answer to your class and your teacher!

Principal Roy Calkins, Jenna Dempsey and Mary Nelmes

Nancy Elson, Kings Consolidated District #144, Kings (1)

I would like to expose my students to the use of wool to create felting.  The supplies I am requesting include the foam blocks and needles necessary to create needle felting.  We will be able to create 2-dimensional as well as three dimensional wool felted art at levels 4th-8th grades. 

Kim McKenna and Superintendent Matt Lamb (receiving grant check for Nancy Elson)

Jennifer Freeman, Madison Elementary, Dixon (1)

I believe students would benefit from an indoor garden so they can learn about agriculture  and the responsibility of tending to a garden along with scientific observations, healthy eating and incorporate other subjects like math, social studies and science. 

Principal Joey Sagel, Jean Whipple, Jennifer Freeman and Mary Nelmes

Christy Hackett, Fulton High School, Fulton (1)

Coding is quickly becoming a required second language in today’s world. Teaching students basic coding and problem solving skills at a young age is an important life skill and a skill that will carry them as they work towards adulthood and future careers. Microbit computer devices are an easy, fun and effective way to introduce coding to students of any age. 

Christy Hackett and Principal Robert Gosch

Caryn Hardy, Durand Elementary School, Durand (1)

This grant request would purchase two exam reader text to speech devices for special education students.  This device reads exams and other academic material to students.  This allows students that struggle with reading to fluency to still display their knowledge and comprehension of material that is heavy with text, but assessing other skill areas, such as lengthy math story problems. 

Caryn Hardy and Principal Shanna Rufener

Erin Hartman, Jefferson Elementary School, Sterling (1)

Prodigies Desk Bells are instruments for early music learners that are color coded to match the same color scheme for musical notes made popular by the famous classroom instrument, Boomwhackers, which our students love using.  Hand signals to go along with the Solfege method of pitch syllables within a musical scale are also included and connected in learning.   With these desk bells, students will sing, hand-sign, and play their way to a jump start on pitch awareness and Solfege instruction that will continue through third grade, with further application in higher grade levels.  

Principal Heather Wittenauer, Erin Hartman and Mary Nelmes

Amanda Harvey, Hononegah High School, Rockton (1)

Technology is the way of our future which not all students can afford. In order to provide all students high levels of learning, students need graphing calculators to take problem solving to the highest level. By allowing students access to the graphing calculators, we level the playing field for them as they move on in their education and careers. 

Principal Chad Dougherty, Amanda Harvey and Dave Davison

Kelly Kloster, Blackhawk Elementary School, Freeport (1)

Developed by leading literacy experts Jan Richardson, Ph.D., and Maria Walther, Ed.D., Next Step Guided Reading Assessment uses Richardson’s proven Assess-Decide-Guide teaching system to pinpoint students’ reading level and target instructional next steps. This lean, smart assessment kit provides teachers with a complete picture of each reader’s word knowledge, phonics skills, fluency, and comprehension skills. The accompanying digital management system offers clear suggestions about how to use the classroom data to form guided reading groups, plan and teach effective lessons, and move students into more challenging texts. 

Linda Nott and Kelly Kloster

Cindy Koester, Dakota Elementary School, Dakota (1)

We have recently created a STEAM room in our building and are lacking materials to utilize this room effectively. Our 5th grade students create Rube Goldberg machines every year, and need access to many types of simple machines. This grant would allow our students to create more elaborate machines by having more complex items to use. This grant would ultimately help our entire school by helping foster the love of science. 

Principal Greg Midgett, Cindy Koester and Linda Nott

Megan Post, Saratoga Elementary School, Morris (1)

I am looking to purchase decodable books to help my struggling readers. These books will use the Science of Reading approach to help them decode sounds, then blend them together to read more fluently.

Assistant Principal Kim Rybicki and Megan Post

Holli Rapp, Northwest Elementary School, La Salle (1)

The incorporation of these kits would help our students with their science learning and the ability to have hands on experience with the earth and life science units of the Next Generation Science Standards. The kits would provide us the opportunity to use hands on activities to further our education in our ESL classroom. Our classroom, is the 3rd grade ELL classroom and we need the opportunity to experience these activities through hands on activities.

Jackie Sapienza, Holli Rapp and Principal Gary Windy

Angie Serafini, Putnam County Primary, Granville (1)

This request is to help create a Play-Based Learning environment for Kindergarten students. Research shows that when students are engaged in their learning through hands-on activities, they have a higher success rate of retaining the concepts being taught. My goal is provide my students the best opportunities for learning through a Play-Based approach. 

Adriane Shore, Principal Mariah Mott, Angie Serafini and Jackie Sapienza

Amy Shannon, Saratoga School District 60C, Morris (1)

I would like to purchase 2 Oculus Quests VR headsets and 2 cases to upgrade our current VR headsets that are no longer working. The vr headsets will enhance the students learning and keep them engaged while doing so.  Students will be able to experience things that they may not be able to in real life. 

Assistant Principal Kim Rybicki and Amy Shannon 

Pachia Tenpas-Rice, Scales Mound High School, Scales Mound (1)

I would like to purchase a water bath for use in several of our biology, anatomy and AP biology labs that require specific temperature water. For example, my AP biology students are currently completing biotechnology lab using gel electrophoresis and DNA recombination. In both of these labs, a water bath is needed to heat the DNA to a very specific temperature (37 and 42 degrees Celsius respectively) for a certain length of time. Maintaining this temperature using water and a hot plate can be very tricky as our hot plates do not have specific temperature settings and are not large enough for a full water bath. 

Pachia Tenpas-Rice and Principal Dr. Matt Wiederholt

Summer Traver, Henry-Senachwine Grade School, Henry (1)

I would like to purchase age appropriate biographies for my class to use in their oral book report presentations.  Students will use the information learned from reading their chosen biography to dress up as their character and present the information to their peers. 

Principal Angie Merboth, Summer Traver and Katie Grumbine

Tammy Walsh, Minooka Junior High School, Minooka (1)

I would like to purchase a large monitor that could be hung and used at the back of the classroom as a teleprompter for students to use as they practice their speaking skills.  Removing the anxiety of notecards and loosing their place would allow students of all abilities to focus on delivery skills and speaking strategies. These speaking skills will help them throughout life whether their audience is one person or many people, from presentations in school to future job interviews. This extra tool would help my students to become competent public speakers for years to come. 

Principal Jason Finkelstein and Tammy Walsh

Jessenia Chadick, Little Fort, Waukegan (2)

Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything is a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes until your bus leaves. Is there enough time? You have 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Can you make 1 good outfit? Then you start to wonder: Why does everything have to be such a problem? Why? Because you’re the victim of a Math Curse! One of the best ways to introduce a new math concept or math skill is by using read aloud math picture books. Math read alouds are a visual way to show math concepts and the stories get kids excited about math! 

Assistant Principal Tim LaBrie, Susan Greene, Jessenia Chadick, Wendy Wiegers, and Principal Amy Grossman

Maria Larson, Little Fort Elementary School, Waukegan (2)

Scribbling may look random to adults, but to a child, scribbles are very purposeful. While scribbles don’t resemble letters or writing, they do represent the ideas of a young writer. These beginning attempts to write can be proud accomplishments to a youngster, and must be encouraged.  My project will provide many engaging opportunities for my students to become budding writers. 

Principal Amy Grossman, Wendy Wiegers, Maria Larson, Susan Greene, and Assistant Principal Tim LaBrie

Sharon McDaniel, Little Fort Elementary School, Waukegan (2)

Imagine it’s a beautiful sunny day.  There’s a cool breeze blowing through the trees, birds are chirping…and you are sitting at your desk, inside your classroom, staring out the window.  What if you had an outdoor classroom to learn while getting fresh air and sharing the joy of learning with your peers?  My project is to bring outdoor educational games to our school garden and add joy to our learning! 

Assistant Principal Tim LaBrie, Wendy Wiegers, Cody Plusa, Sharon McDaniel, Susan Greene, and Principal Amy Grossman

Taylor Relle, Meadowview, Grayslake (2)

Funds received will be used in a 1st grade special education classroom for preparing adaptive reading materials. Adaptive reading materials are books modified for students with visual impairments, physical impairments, cognitive challenges, those who utilize AAC devices, and many more. My students would highly benefit from being able to read books that are specific to their individual needs. This project is just one way I can advocate for my students and give them the education they deserve! 

Susan Greene and Taylor Relle

Becky Seal, Little Fort, Waukegan (2)

The handwriting is on the wall. You’ve heard the argument over and over again…handwriting is done… keyboarding skills all the way…but not so fast!  Research shows that learning to write by hand is a key component in improving both spelling ability and written composition. After a long period of neglect in education, the research has undeniable shown handwriting has benefits for many youngsters, including those with learning disabilities involving handwriting, which may accompany reading disabilities, writing disabilities, nonverbal learning disabilities, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

Principal Amy Grossman, Wendy Wiegers, Becky Seal, Susan Greene, and Assistant Principal Tim LaBrie

Rebecca Sheade, Kenneth Murphy Elementary School, Beach Park (2)

My students are in great need of leveled texts for our classroom library, small group instruction, and take home book bags. Most of my students do not have access to books at home, so we put together book bags for them to borrow and practice with. It is important for them to have level appropriate texts to read at home so that they can develop a strong life-long relationship with reading, and it allows families to assist in their reading journey. Due to covid, the students who qualify for reading intervention has grown, and we need more texts to support them in reading groups. 

Kendra Zannini, Rebecca Sheade, Susan Greene, and Principal Gabe Cappozzo

Megan Swirsley, SEDOL sector classroom, Old Mill Creek (2)

We would like to secure funding through the grant to make sensory manipulative kits for students on the autism spectrum.  We would like to be able to make one kit for each student to help them with their self regulation, fine motor skills, tactile exploration, and spontaneous speech.  This kit would be used as a multidisciplinary approach to helping the students meet their needs to be ready to learn. 


Pam Evans, Megan Swirsley, and Susan Greene

Caroline Szostak, Viking Middle School, Gurnee (2)

My goal is to uniform the calculators my students have access to in math class. Some are able to purchase their own (though a wide variety of brands) while others rely on an older set I have in my classroom. I want to ensure that all my students have an equal playing field when it comes to access to technology in my classroom. 

Caroline Szostak and Wendy Wiegers

Jaclyn Warneke, Little Fort Elementary School, Waukegan (2)

“In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived 12 little girls, in two straight lines.”  The very first sentence of a story can be extremely powerful. It will reach out and grab you, and it will stick with you for days, weeks, even years.  What if our students knew there was a different way to start their stories than by falling back on “Once upon a time…” ?  By using great read alouds, like Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, we can open a whole new world of writing for our students! 

Principal Amy Grossman, Wendy Wiegers, Jaclyn Warneke, Susan Greene, and Assistant Principal Tim LaBrie

Jennifer Giemza, Jefferson Elementary, Berwyn (3)

Collaborating through the art of weaving is a hands on approach to creating through the mindful practice of watching a small ball of yarn turn into something new.  With the use of a loom big enough to seat several students at a time, children can work together to create patterns of lines and shapes through the weaving process.  Weaving fosters concentration, pattern recognition that mirrors how we learn to read and write, small motor skills and interpersonal relationships between classmates. 

Principal Dena Thill, Frances Pettersen, and Jennifer Giemza

Brooke Jensen, James Howard Monroe Middle School, Wheaton (3)

My overall goal is to bring a makerspace to Monroe Middle School for our science and technology classes, after school STEM programming, and our shared library/media space. The “Makey Makey” is a material students can use to turn everyday materials into devices to connect with technology with infinite possibilities! This is a fantastic resource for our makerspace because it encourages creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, and autonomy in student learning and design. 

Principal Bryan Buck, Caryn Graham, and Brooke Jensen

Idalia Marin, Bradley Bourbonnais Community High School, Bradley (3)

Students in my class are strengthening their reading through literature in their native language. Students in my class are focusing on reading authentic literature. Our classroom units focus on honoring and strengthening student’s cultural identity and self esteem. 

Idalia Marin and Superintendent Matt Vosnerg

Lori Montgomery, Prairieview-Ogden CCSD#197, Ogden (3)

Meeting student needs is a continuing challenge that schools face every day.  Providing an education that supports physical and emotional needs as well as academics is key.  Many students in today’s society experience sensory overload and benefit from a separate setting with fewer distractions in a natural environment.  Our school is responding to these needs by setting up an outdoor area that provides a quiet green space for our students to refocus or to receive reward time surrounded by nature. 

Lori Montgomery and Principal Carl Heuer

Kimberly Rumery, Monroe Middle School, Wheaton (3)

The overall goal of a few teachers in our building is to bring a makerspace to Monroe Middle School. We would use this for our science and technology classes, after school STEM programming, and our shared library/media space. Squishy circuits and keva planks are great resources of our makerspace because they encourage creativity, problem-solving, invention, collaboration, and autonomy in student learning and design! 

Principal Bryan Buck, Caryn Graham, and Kimberly Rumery

Kiera Strecker, Pennoyer School, Norridge (3)

I would like to purchase sets of read-alouds that are connected to Math for our Kindergarten through 3rd grade students. I believe that engaging students in mathematical concepts through literacy allows them to think about math in different ways and activate background knowledge as well as apply new skills in an additional setting which creates a deeper learning experience. 

Marge Sucansky, Kiera Strecker, and Principal Adam Greenburg

Sara Young, Waubonsie Valley High School, Aurora (3)

Our AP Environmental classes will be reading from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book “Braiding Sweetgrass” as a way to connect the ecology concepts we are learning about in the curriculum with the contributions of indigenous knowledge. Author Robin Wall Kimmerer is a member of the Potawatomi Nation of which our school’s namesake, Chief Waubonsie, was also a member of. This will help our students contribute to our school’s current imagery initiative to acknowledge and learn about the native land on which our school sits as well as prepare them for the local prairie restoration project our school has been participating in for the last 20 years. 

Ray Kaufman, Sara Young, and Principal Jason Stipp

Sarah Allen, Illini Bluffs Middle School, Glasford (4)

The goal of this project is to bring real world math to life for students with special needs.  My students learn better with visual aides and hands on experiences which this project can offer.  For my 8th grade students transitioning to high school, I can expand from basic money skills to budgeting and career exploration. 

Principal Jeremy Ball, Sarah Allen and Superintendent Roger Alvey

Trista Barrett, Virginia CUSD 64, Virginia (4)

As research has shown time and time again, language and literacy are critically important domains in early childhood development. As a speech-language pathologist, I strive to not only reach those with Individual Education Plans (IEPs), but also provide language and literacy enrichment to all students in the preschool setting. The big book and story telling materials in this proposal will allow me to provide engaging, thematic lessons in a whole-group fashion to support the developmental growth of typically developing students as well as those with special needs. 

Trista Barrett

Beth Bergschneider, Hickory Grove Elementary School, Dunlap (4)

My goal as a third grade teacher has always been to build a love of reading. I love teaching novel studies to my students to help them develop their reading comprehension skills, as well as build their social emotional skills. Class sets of engaging novels will allow me to teach my students the necessary reading skills of 3rd grade, and will help my students fall in love with reading. 

Principal Jeremy Etnyre, Beth Bergschneider, Roger Hampton and Assistant Principal Michaela Rychener

Shellie Brooks, Havana Junior High, Havana (4)

We have our kids participate in various fitness activities two days during the week.  Often, we will do circuits that involve body weight or dumbbells, or games that involve cardio.  We would like to introduce new fitness activities that may get students interested in personal fitness and that they may use outside of school. 

Shellie Brooks and Principal Nathan Brady

Linda Brown, Virginia Junior High School, Virginia (4)

I would love to add four (4) TI-84 CE rechargeable graphing calculators to my junior high classroom.   My students do not currently have the opportunity to work with graphing calculators since many of them can not afford to purchase them. The addition of these calculators would enhance their learning experiences when we explore linear, quadratic and exponential graphs, especially in my algebra class.

Linda Brown

Kara Chambers, Ridgeview Elementary, Peoria (4)

I am looking to get a more robust library of decodeable readers that my students will enjoy. There is a big push towards building foundational skills, and I believe decodeable readers align with new reading research regarding the science of reading. I would really like to update my reading practice by utilizing more decodeable books with my kindergarteners. 

Principal Todd Jefferson, Kara Chambers and Roger Hampton

Jill Heinz, Wilder-Waite Grade School, Peoria (4)

I requested an Epson Document Camera for my kindergarten classroom. This document camera will allow me to present pages, books, and all instruction materials while altering them during our lesson time. It will be extremely helpful for my students to be able to see what I am trying to present to them clearly. This camera will be a wonderful addition in my classroom.

Principal Stacy Berg, Jill Heinz and Roger Hampton 

Megan Johnson, Ridgeview Elementary School, Peoria (4)

I am currently a first grade teacher who is going to be teaching fifth grade next year.  I’m looking to add books to my classroom library that can be used for small group reading time.  The fifth grade classes also do a Harry Potter unit that I am looking to purchase a class set of Harry Potter books for each of my students. 

Roger Hampton, Megan Johnson and Principal Todd Jefferson

Kyla Mason, New Central Elementary, Havana (4)

Our 2nd grade team would like to purchase student copies of the Magic Tree House Titanic Research Guide for our classes that we would be able to use each year with our students.  We are planning a unit on the Titanic and would like for each student to have a book to use as we read and learn together.  The unit will include some hands on activities and explorations.  We have an online reading curriculum, but the kids always love and get so much out of having an actual book in their hands. 

Principal Randi Cowell and Kyla Mason

Desiree Masters, Dunlap High School, Dunlap (4)

Each year our engineering students research a real-world problem and design and develop their own solution to this problem.  Students can choose a problem that they are interested in – topics range from electronics, sports, music, civil engineering, and more. 

Roger Hampton, Desiree Masters and Assistant Principal Amelia Roberts

Sydney McDaniels, Midwest Central Primary School, Manito (4)

My project is to help students improve their reading skills by incorporating decodable books into their guided reading lessons and independent reading.  Decodable books help students focus on a specific phonics skill and help them connect the phonics to their reading. 

Sydney McDaniels and Principal Sally Timm

Valerie Rocke, Banner Elementary, Dunlap (4)

Being an upper elementary teacher, kids (and even adults) often think picture books are beyond them, yet picture books bring such rich conversation and discussion. With the support of this grant, I envision reading at least one picture book per week to my students to bring up tough conversations that need to be had such as, but not limited to, the following — SEL, race, disabilities, immigrants, poverty, stereotypes, religious understanding, problem-solving, and historical events. Through these conversations, students will, in hope, have a better understanding of those around them and how to interact knowledgeably and respectfully in this ever-changing, diverse world. 

Principal Greg Fairchild, Valerie Rocke and Roger Hampton

Samantha Tabor, Hollis Grade School, Peoria (4)

I would like to purchase new pieces of music that can be used for our Solo and Ensemble Project. Students  will select music to learn through small group instruction and independently learning outside of class to be performed at Solo & Ensemble Preview Night or the IGSMA Solo & Ensemble Competition. This grant would allow me to add different difficulty levels to meet our students’ individual needs, as well as to add a variety of both standard and popular repertoire that will draw students in and keep them engaged, ultimately leading to motivated students that continue to grow in musical talent. My hope is that by purchasing these pieces more students will be motivated and encouraged to participate in the competition, which is a valuable opportunity for them and a way for them to grow and learn as a musician. 

Superintendent Chad Jones and Samantha Tabor

Stephanie Wilson, Gillespie Middle School, Gillespie (4)

This grant would purchase two complete sets of the 2023 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award selections. Seventh grade students would be able to read the books and participate in voting for the 2023 award, which is chosen by 4th-8th grade students throughout Illinois. These high-quality, newer releases will be a positive addition to my classroom library, and are typically very popular among students. The selected books also feature authors and characters of different backgrounds, making them accessible to all students. 

Principal Patrick Mcginthy and Stephanie Wilson

Brittany Wrigley, Illini Central Grade School, Mason City (4)

My project is to provide more instrumental opportunities in my music classroom. Creating and composing is a huge component in the Illinois Arts Standards. Currently my music classroom only has one xylophone, and I’d like to obtain more for creative opportunities for my students. We currently use the one xylophone for all 250 of my students, and I use paper xylophones printed out for the students to have something to practice on. 

Principal Cassy Carey and Brittany Wrigley

Erin Barker, Okaw Valley Elementary School, Bethany (5)

I am hoping to update and add to the materials available to students who receive speech & language services. Frequently updating the materials and adding new materials keeps the students engaged and promotes generalization of skills. 

Principal Heidi Vander Burg and Erin Barker

Roberta Biggs, Jasper Grade School, Fairfield (5)

Often I am asked “would you teach me to play the piano?” and sadly, I answer, due to limited resources and time,” I cannot”.  However, group lessons could be possible with the help of keyboards that will connect to my students chrome books. This never ending request could be a real possibility. 

Assistant Principal Cindi Ellis, Roberta Biggs, Brenda Rush, and David Savage

Pamela DeWerff, Taylorville Jr High School, Taylorville (5)

This grant would fund an astronomy club project.  Taylorville Jr. High has students that are interested in astronomy.  There are no opportunities for many of the students to view and learn about the night sky.  The Orion telescope will give students that chance to actually view the night sky and learn about the universe we live in. 

Principal Eric Bruder and Pamela DeWerff

Patricia King, Sullivan High School, Sullivan (5)

I plan to purchase a variety of educational Spanish language games which foster face-to-face interaction among students if I am awarded this grant. The selected games will not only help students master the four major components of foreign language learning (writing, speaking, listening, and learning) but will also require them to successfully interact with their peers and not an electronic device. Learning language skills via interpersonal activities which are designed to be both entertaining and educational is a proven best practice as well as something that benefits students’ socio-emotional growth. Giving students the opportunity to play and participate in fun activities is particularly needed in the current stressful environment. 

Jim Barr, Jane McKown, Patricia King, LaVonne Chaney, and Becky Lawson

Jessica Reber, Taylorville Junior High School, Taylorville (5)

My classroom is in need of a standing table for students to work at.  This allows them to get out of their seats and do their work and learn more comfortably, especially for group projects.  The standing table will be beneficial to all of my students, but especially for my students who require more movement.  It will allow them to collaborate and work together on a variety of projects. 

Principal Eric Bruder and Jessica Reber

Ryan Repking, Dieterich Jr-Sr High School, Dieterich (5)

I teach a Small engine/Automotive class and we are in need of funding to buy more tools.  Tools can be very expensive for a small district like Dieterich, but once they are purchased they can be passed on for years to come.  The class is currently in its fourth year, and it continues to grow in size due to student interest.  Although I am excited to add more students, we now have the added cost of having to purchase more tools. 

Ryan Repking, Jim Barr, and Principal Scott Kocher 

Jessica Sefton, Brownstown Elementary School, Brownstown (5)

I would use the provided grant money to purchase badminton rackets and shuttlecocks for my PE classes. The elementary school has never owned badminton equipment and I would like to introduce this sport to my students. I have acquired the nets needed to play and all I need to begin are the rackets and shuttlecocks. 

Jessica Sefton

Corrie Stauder, Okaw Valley, Findlay (5)

The project that I would like to start with 6-8th grades is a Little Bits Coding class. This would put their screen time into inventing things using Math, Science Engineering, and Art. This will also have kids hands on and learning to problem solve.  This kit comes with 16 Inventions right out of the box. 

LaVonne Chaney, Principal Ross Forlines (receiving award for Corrie Stauder), Jim Barr, and Jane McKown

Laura Brennan, Liberty Middle School, Edwardsville (6)

My class would benefit from purchasing a SRA Reading Laboratory Kit. SRA supports a growth mindset within every student. Students are interested in their own learning with self-monitoring progress, which is an integral part of student success. Students are motivated through self-guided, cross-curricular reading selections that connect their reading level with their topics of interests. This instills a love of reading and learning. 

Twila Prunty, Laura Brennan, and Principal Dr. Allen Duncan

Sarah Childers, Opdyke Belle Rive Grade School, Opdyke (6)

Fourth grade studies development of embryos and completes a novel study on Charlotte’s Web. I am requesting an egg incubator and an egg candling kit so that each student can identify the stages of the embryos development. This activity is a cross curricular activity that will include science and math. 

Superintendent Joe Dunlap, Sarah Childers, and John Harland

Shanyra Cox, Woodland Elementary School, Edwardsville (6)

As part of the  technology curriculum, I will introduce coding to the 3rd-5th graders.  I would like to enrich the coding unit by allowing them to see their coding skills in action with a Dash and Dot coding robot with challenge and  enrichment accessories.  Students will not only have to understand block coding, but will have to problem solve together to code their robot to perform a task. The Dash and Dot robot will teach the kids block coding, provide them with opportunity to problem solve, use critical thinking skills, as well as spark their creativity. 

Shanyra Cox

Hannah Donoho, Farrington Grade School, Bluford (6)

Funds received will be used for grades 5-8 reading materials. The project’s goal is to revamp the classroom library through purchasing modernizing and diversifying books. These resources will benefit many students in the years to come. 

John Harland, Hannah Donoho, and Principal Dana Waggoner

Selena Eastling-Chalmers, James Avant Elementary School, East St. Louis (6)

Boys Read Too! is a reading club for boys in grades 3rd – 5th. The book club will be geared toward boys that have lost their interest in reading. Through books that connect with their interests and are relevant in their lives today,  we hope to light a spark that would ignite a reading revolution. The boys will have an opportunity to bond, have rich discussions about text, and work on changing their opinions about reading. 

Selena Eastling-Chalmers and Principal Quanshanda Nicholson

Erica Harris, East Side Elementary, McLeansboro (6)

Each year in 5th grade we do an in depth study of the American Revolution. The students complete many research projects to go along with our American Revolution unit. I would like to have more resources for the students to use for their projects, as well as a class read aloud to complete when studying the American Revolution. 

John Harland, Erica Harris, Diane Kunkel, and Principal Stephanie Lasswell

Abby Hawkins, Rome Grade School, Dix (6)

I am looking to purchase resources that would be additions to our current Social Studies Curriculum. We purchased new textbooks for our school district this school year, and I am hoping to find resources that could be used to supplement the textbook that would enhance our social studies experience. 

John Harland, Abby Hawkins, and Principal Christy Elwood

Allyson Heitmeyer, Rome Grade School, Dix (6)

I am asking for the grant money in order to purchase two classroom sets (25 books per set) of two different novels. We read these novels every year, and our books have missing covers, ripped out pages, and are just falling completely apart. I’m having to photocopy or repair books constantly. 

John Harland, Allyson Heitmeyer, and Principal Christy Elwood

Nina McLean, James Avant Elementary School, East St. Louis (6)

Drama Club/ Reader’s Theater Group promoting reading confidence, fluency and expression.  A project dedicated to making reading fun across grade levels and curriculum. 

Nina McLean and Principal Quanshanda Nicholson

Tyler Slaby, Liberty Middle School, Edwardsville (6)

I am currently needing math supplies for our 6th grade math students to better support them in the classroom when it comes to understanding multiplication and division. I am on the search for base ten blocks that can be used for 330 students in our middle school to support their learning of fractions, multiplication, and division. 

Twila Prunty, Tyler Slaby, and Dr. Allen Duncan

Megan Thompson, Washington Elementary, Marion (6)

I work with students who need extra support in developing their phonics skills and reading comprehension. We focus on learning the letters, letter sounds, then reading books that are decodable, which allows us to reinforce the skills they are learning. Decodable readers have words in which students know the sounds and are able to decode each word.  Utilizing decodable readers helps to build confident readers at an early age which is one of my goals as a Reading Specialist. 

John Harland, Megan Thompson, and Principal Ashleigh Benson