By Sheena Williams
Killeen Daily Herald
Silly string streaked through the air. The noise from party blowers mingled with the sounds of laughter coming from Susan Faucett's kindergarten class Wednesday.
It wasn't the din of a festive Christmas party echoing down the halls of Trimmier Elementary School. The celebration was triggered by Faucett and fellow teacher Ginny Gonder receiving a grant from Killeen Independent School District's Education Foundation Grant Patrol.
Wearing Santa hats while tunes from Kool & the Gang's "Celebrate Good Times" cheerfully emanated from a hand-held boombox, board members from the foundation awarded the grinning pair with the funds to buy the Promethean Whiteboard that Faucett has had her eye on for some time.
With donations from local businesses, groups and individuals, the grant patrol has been empowering teachers with the chance to request grants to expand their students' creativity using today's high-tech tools.
These early Christmas presents were awarded to 16 teachers across the district and allocated $55,479 that will soon be enhancing children's minds in immeasurable ways, said Dawn Parnell, director of education for the association.
"I think it is a great morale booster, and encourages teachers and staff," Parnell said. "It's a pat on the back for them because their ideas are creative enough to where they can be funded. It offers them an opportunity to have access to funding for innovative and creative programs that are not funded by the normal KISD operating budget."
With a quick nod, Sarah Montgomery admitted that she is pretty happy about her class' new board that is on its way. The 6-year-old said she is really interested in the new virtual games she'll be able to play with her classmates.
"We really want it because it'll help us learn better," Sarah said softly.
Faucett already has explained the new interactive touch-screen's capabilities to her class. She has been scouting out new software that will allow her pupils to solve problems together and play informative games.
Students also will be armed with clickers that will allow them to select answers to questions and submit them confidentially.
"We live in such a fast-paced society, and the old way of doing things just isn't interesting them," said Faucett. "They're always moving their bodies and their thoughts, and you have to keep up with their energy level. The earlier you introduce technology, the further they'll go."
Contact Sheena Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553.
Fall 2008 engagement grants
1. Path of the Navigator, Clarke Elementary – Kasey Smith, Janet Barnett, Sara Taylor, $1,799.97. Sponsor: Time Warner Cable
2. A Kaleidoscope of Culture, Clear Creek Elementary – Melinda Wright, $844. Sponsor: Embarq
3. London and Bombay and Hong Kong! Oh My!, Ellison High School – Vicky Duke, Lisa Bond, Laurene Glover, Betsy Southworth, Mary Turner-Grubb, $2,263.18. Sponsor: First Texas Bank
4. Three, Two, One Action, KISD-TV – Bradley Retz, Randy Hudson, $4,333. Sponsor: Bentina Homes
5. Mission E.L.M.O.: Enthusiastic Learners Master Objectives, Liberty Hill M.S. – Edgar Veiga, Samantha Anderson, Quinta Harris, Summer Heidtbrink, Anna Kober, Shlonda Morgan, Holly Nunes, Jessica Pechak, Reginald Sanders, $4,635. Sponsor: Actus Lend Lease, LLC
6. Ready Readers, Montague Village Elementary – Laura Gregory, $1,499. Sponsor: Lott, Vernon & Co., P.C., CPA's
7. TALL TALES Café, Nolanville Elementary – Mary Cook, Cheryl Gunderson, $2,600. Sponsor: Parsons Commercial Roofing
8. Coming to You Live From the KISD Press!, Palo Alto M.S. – Jami Salter, $1,462.44. Sponsor: First Texas Bank
9. Globe Trotters – Mapping our Way to Success!, Pershing Park Elementary – Vernice Antrim, Julianna Gilbert, Sonia Mason, Maritza Nunez, David Pettit, Jeremy Zierden, $4,363. Sponsor: Embarq
10. Leapin' Into Learning, Saegert Elementary – Rachel Barnett, Elise Bridges-Hicks, Teresa Jurca, Wendy Moomaw, Jennifer Sanders, $5,000. Sponsor: Cloud Construction
11. CNN – Children's Network News, Saegert Elementary – Gail Charles-Walters, Pamela Brower, Frankie Evans, Daniel Helvetius, Elizabeth Pilgram, Paul Selph, Loretta Walker, $4,946. Sponsor: H-E-B
12. Empowering the Disenchanted Student In the 21st Century, Trimmier Elementary – Susan Faucett, Ginny Gonder, $4,936. Sponsor: Huckabee Community Excellence Fund
13. Farewell Formaldehyde – Presenting Promethean, Union Grove M.S. – Connie Cox, Jorge Soldevila, $4,993. Sponsor: First National Bank Texas/Fort Hood National Bank
14. A Fun & Exciting Way to Improve Your Foreign Language Skills, Union Grove M.S. – Elizabeth Heiser, Joelle Ford, $3,490. Sponsor: First National Bank Texas/Fort Hood National Bank
15. Math That Clicks (Senteo Response System), Union Grove M.S. – Lillian Spencer, Barbara Carroll, $4,178.50. Sponsor: Lott, Vernon & Co., P.C., CPA's
16. A Reading Pen-tervention, Willow Springs Elementary – Christy Weatherford, Ida Meyer, Sara Richards, $4,138.99. Sponsor: Dr. & Mrs. Henry A. Mayer