In a show of early holiday gift giving and generous community support, an excited group of local leaders showered teachers recently with surprise presents for classroom learning.

Killeen ISD Education Foundation board members joined foundation staff, district and campus administrators and other supporters in the group’s annual distribution of grants to schools on Dec. 2.

Two groups of community grant patrols traveled by bus to 16 schools and delivered 19 grant awards worth more than $101,000.

The grants went to teachers at elementary, middle and high schools to bring to fruition projects in science, reading, math, music, technology and other academic disciplines.

The $101,296 in grant funding, all from donations, was a record giveaway for the 16-year-old foundation.

At Patterson Middle School, sixth-graders hunkered down between rows of desks in a simulation of trench warfare when a rain of stringy fire came hurtling in.

History teacher Teaven Barnum accepted the $4,815 grant for a project called “Get the Ball Rolling” that will add a technical dimension to the creative lessons in his classroom and across the middle school.

The grant will purchase a robotic ball that will allow students to work with computer code on projects dealing with speed and motion, mapping coordinates and history projects such as chariot racing.

“It means a lot,” Barnum said. “I like to do simulations and this will bring technology into that.” He will also use the robotic ball in a gaming club that he sponsors at the school.

“We love going on grant patrol to start off the holiday season,” said foundation director Joyce Hodson. “Giving back to our students, staff and schools is the heartbeat of our mission.”

The record-breaking grant distribution included three special grants addressing multiple schools.

Those grants include a $9,981 award to continue the annual KISD elementary Science Olympiad with 29 schools scheduled to participate next May.

Willow Spring Elementary Assistant Principal Dawn Sills accepted the grant check for the Science Olympiad. Last year, 15-member teams competed in 20 science-related games.

“The Science Olympiad brings a focus on science and how it relates to real world,” Sills said. “These activities are fun and this brings it to the forefront.”

Other grants will help fund a pair of book trivia games. A $5,027 grant will expand a Battle of the Books for 11 middle schools. A $5,486 grant will launch a similar event for 17 elementary schools.

Duncan Elementary School librarian Susan Sebeck was in tears as she wiped away the celebration string and spoke of a $3,672 grant called “Breaking the Code” that will bring coding technology to the library to include the youngest students.

She said she formed the idea for the grant when she observed her 4-year-old grandson using computer code with simple robots to learn colors and shapes.

“I get to see every class in here,” the librarian pointed out. “We can assist the teachers and get this technology in the hands of 3-year-olds (in prekindergarten at the Fort Hood school).”

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