Wearing Santa hats and braving freezing temperatures, the Killeen ISD Education Foundation grant patrol distribution Friday took on a holiday feel.
They came bearing gifts, handing out oversized checks totaling more than $75,000 and making up 17 innovative classroom projects across 11 campuses within the Killeen Independent School District.
Celebratory canned string and noisemakers announced the annual awarding of grants with foundation board members and staff, as well as the district superintendent and deputy superintendent taking part.
At the first school, Rancier Middle School in Killeen, Principal Amanda Silkett recruited some athletic students to join the surprise celebration for teachers Pamela Williamson and Lacy Trevino.
Another school, Pershing Park Elementary, included their science club in the grant presentation — a $10,585 grant that will help support all the Killeen ISD elementary schools in next spring’s third annual Elementary Science Olympiad.
Other grants centered on placing technology in students’ hands and bringing a creative twist to learning math and science, starting a school garden, collecting dirt samples and combating bullying.
Ellison High School received grants for two projects. Science teacher John Reed aims to collect dirt samples from all 254 Texas counties for an ecological study.
Ellison librarian Laura Gregory accepted a grant to purchase five recording devices teachers will check out to record lectures for online posting to assist students with content retrieval from home.
The wireless devices are designed for teachers to wear and swivel as the instructor moves about the classroom.
The rationale behind “flipping instruction” is that students and parents can access content from home, freeing up teachers to more effectively assist students in the classroom.
Hay Branch Elementary School received funding for four grants totaling $16,028.
Those include a plan to start a school television station, a leadership program, interactive technology and first-grade reading.
Principal Brenda Martinez was touched, she said, because of her teachers’ hard work to submit grant applications to benefit students.
“I think it’s so awesome,” she said. “It touched my heart because of the whole-hearted effort that went into it. The campus worked hard for a long time. It’s so uplifting being able to bring more to kids we didn’t think would be possible so soon.”
At Patterson Middle School, first-year teacher Tug Lederman lifted his hands in the air when he realized he won a $4,788 grant to build a garden to build science, math and English skills.
He said the experience building a garden would enhance life experiences for students and give opportunities for studying habitats and writing about their experiences.
Pershing Park third- through fifth-grade science club members joined four teachers in accepting a grant to continue the district’s elementary science Olympiad this spring.
Fifth-grader Brianna Hall said club members work hard to study science on their own time to prepare for the competitive event.
“It’s a lot of work, but at the end it’s a lot of fun,” Brianna said.
“We’re learning new things, too, right along with them,” said Pershing Park fourth-grade teacher Amanda Leiter, adding the school hopes to better its twice-in-a-row second-place finish this year.