Smith Middle School

Smith Middle School teacher Su Frank, left, smiles as education foundation specialist Abigale Flugum presents her with a $4,912 classroom grant while a group of cheerleaders congratulate her. A foundation grant patrol traveled Friday to 14 schools to present 20 grants totaling $72,000.

The Killeen ISD Education Foundation grant patrol made surprise visits to 14 schools Friday, handing out 20 classroom grants totaling $72,000.

The wide-ranging grants, funded through community donors, will fuel success stories not yet written.

Foundation board members used party whistles, festive music and canned string as they burst into classrooms, often prompting teachers to tears, laughter or both.

At two middle schools, cheerleader squads went along for the deliveries, cheering on the teacher recipients.

At Palo Alto Middle School, where three teacher groups received funding, principal Matt Widacki explained some of the excitement and emotion attached to receiving a grant.

“I had three science teachers who wanted to do three things and I wanted to do all of them,” he said, explaining that he would likely have to choose one of the three before receiving the grants.

“We would love to get one grant; now we got all three. This will be amazing.”

Palo Alto teachers received $4,755 in funding to plant a garden, something Widacki said the school has tried to do for four years. The other grants will fund projects aimed at forensics ($1,255) and an organism mapping software ($1,495).

Other grants will allow Ellison High School science students to turn 9,400 square feet into a native prairie grass replant initiative ($2,135); Saegert Elementary students to use painted shapes and maps on their PE court ($4,497); and Shoemaker High School to put on a musical ($2,015).

At Smith Middle School, first-year teacher Su Frank wrote a grant request as part of a college course and was shocked to actually win $4,912, which will purchase tiles to allow students a hands-on alternative to paper-and-pencil math work.

At Eastern Hills Middle School, cheerleaders cheered for science teacher Taylor Wusk, whose $4,969 grant will purchase handheld portable devices to gather and analyze data.

The teacher said the PASCO system, which all Killeen ISD high schools and some middle schools already have, will save lab setup time and allow students more time to analyze data.

East Ward Elementary School teacher Tara Russe won a $1,200 grant to allow students to build digital flashcards to improve vocabulary in all subjects.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Russe said, as student photography club members snapped her photo. “It’s exciting kids will get the opportunity to go further with technology.”

Two grants have district-wide implications. A $10,190 grant will expand last year’s first elementary Science Olympiad from 13 to 29 schools, with an event planned in the spring at Killeen High School.

The other, a $5,500 grant, which applies to all district middle schools, will help identify and support Duke Talent Identification qualifiers to further their academic talent.

To see the full list of recipients, go to

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.