By Hillary S. Meeks
Killeen Daily Herald
Wielding silly string, balloons, a boombox and several large, fake checks, the Killeen Independent School District Education Foundation "Grant Patrol" went about the business of dispersing grant money to teachers Thursday.
The patrol, composed of KISD administrators, foundation board members and employees, left several excited children and adults in its wake.
"(Applying for a grant) is not a cookie-cutter thing where you put answers in the blank – it's more like a short essay process, where you tell them what you're going to do with it," said Chris Hess, Willow Springs Elementary School physical education teacher.
Hess had to speak loudly over the squealing of several third-graders in the school's gym. They had just been told what the grant Hess had been awarded was for – six Nintendo Wii game consoles. The
PE teacher said these video game consoles require their players to move around for them to work and predicted it would interest this technology-savvy generation of kids.
"If you can't beat em, join em," Hess said with a laugh.
The Education Foundation grant program exists to support creative teaching ideas such as using video games to promote exercise. Every fall and spring, the Foundation awards several thousand dollars in grant money to teachers for engagement activities for students and for professional enhancement.
Lisa Laffey, a Texas history teacher at Union Grove Middle School in Harker Heights, said she always tries to attend the three-day Texas State Historical Association annual meeting. But this year, she won't be shoveling the money for it out of her pocket, or asking the school to sponsor her, because she was given a $657 grant Thursday.
"The whole idea is for me to go and come back and share everything with my counterparts," Laffey said, noting the association features the "leading historians in their field presenting the newest research that's out there."
These grants often keep both teachers and students in step with new technology, such as the $5,000 grant given to teacher Charl Munsey to buy a mannequin that simulates the body's sounds. Munsey, a registered nurse, teaches nursing aide classes to students at the Career & Technology Education center.
"You can program the mannequin with different vital signs, such as a heartbeat," she said, noting that while the students can practice on each other, it doesn't help, because they don't exhibit abnormal vital signs as a patient might. "It's very amazing, and we've been wanting to do this for a long time."
Hands-on experience is one of the best ways to get students to learn, which is why Ellison High School biology teacher Selina Nelson applied for a grant to buy "lab modules."
"It's a bunch of small lab activities they can do so they always have something hands-on," she said.
Even though the senior students who were in her class at the time of the check presentation won't benefit from her grant, they were proud to pose by Nelson in pictures as they held the fake $4,416 check.
Goin' Down and Getting Dirty at the Creek: Alice Anderson, David Douglas, Karen Frist, and Erma Patterson, of Reeces Creek Elementary School, $3,233, sponsored by Parsons Roofing.
I cAn rEaD MUSIC!: Travis Branam, of East Ward Elementary School, $1,428, sponsored by Embarq.
Purple Cow: Julie Fife, Andrea Butler, and Donna Naylor, of Nolan Middle School, $3,800, sponsored by Scientific Learning Corporation.
Condensed Animated Novel: Kelly Fife, of Nolan Middle School, $598, sponsored by Lott, Vernon & Co., CPAs.
Quest for Quirkles: Ginny Gonder and Amanda Polson, of Trimmier Elementary School, $1,264, sponsored by Time Warner Cable.
Science Lab Modules: Selina Nelson, Kara Clay, Bruce Epstein, Sharon Fisher, Mary Morgan, Abby Roberts, and Kalin Wells, of Ellison High School, $4,416, sponsored by Huckabee & Associates, Inc.
Wii Like to Move: Sara Richards, Anna Adam, Tracy Baugh, and Christopher.
Hess, of Willow Springs Elementary School, $4,274, sponsored by Cloud Construction Company.
Pathways to Integration Using Technology: William Simpson, Shanna Adams, Debbie Alston, Sonia Matthew, Dorothy Parker, Nancy Watson, and Jill Winkler, of Brookhaven Elementary School, $3,778.
Spaghetti Book Club: Brenda Thomas, Melissa Cruz, Carly Friedrichs, Sherry Keener, and Jennifer Suhling, of Reeces Creek Elementary School, $1,350, sponsored by First National Bank Texas/Ft. Hood National Bank.
VitalSim Vital Sign Manikin Simulator: Charl Munsey, Beverly Egbert, and Rebecca Hammontree, of Career and Technology Education, $5,000, sponsored by First Texas Bank.
Spring 2007 Professional Learning Grants
Imaginative Education: Provoking Excellence Across the Curriculum: Donna Bownds and Brenda Gillespie, of Clear Creek Elementary School, $3,260, sponsored by Technology for Education Foundation.
Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching: Julie Burke, of Fowler Elementary School, $1,460, sponsored by Metroplex Health System.
Learning Brain Expo: Mary Cook, Debbie Neeley, and Barbara Snipes, of Nolanville Elementary School, $1,801, sponsored by Greater Central Texas Federal Credit Union.
Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching: Roxanne Howell, Shirley Matteson, Sharon Woody, Nicole Hall, Clarence Williams, Ted Coe, and Alice Page, of Palo Alto Middle School, $4,408, sponsored by Indeco Sales.
Texas State Historical Association Annual Meeting: Lisa Laffey, of Union Grove Middle School, $657, sponsored by Union State Bank.
Earth Inside and Out – Dynamic Earth Systems: Robert Marler, of Cedar Valley Elementary School, $462, sponsored by (Ret.) General Robert M. Shoemaker.
Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching: Deanna Sallee and Jill Squier, of Union Grove Middle School, $1,101, sponsored by Frank W. and Anyse Sue Mayborn Foundation.
Super Heroes! We have the Power!: Melinda Wright, of Clear Creek Elementary School, $701, sponsored by Herff Jones.
Contact Hillary S. Meeks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7464