By Hillary S. Meeks

Killeen Daily Herald

The sound of innovative learning rang out at the Killeen Independent School District Education Foundation luncheon Wednesday as the Manor Middle School "Freedom Ringers" regaled the audience with a handbell mini-concert.

The Freedom Ringers are one example of the foundation's funds being distributed to KISD teachers who apply for grants to be used for creative projects. Janice Young, the Freedom Ringers' director, said she was amazed when thousands of dollars were granted to her to buy English handbells for her students.

"Evidently, someone saw the wisdom in such a program," she said.

Other grant recipients at the luncheon included Fowler Elementary School teachers Julie Burke and Laura Holz. The duo talked about how they attained a Foundation Education grant to create a garden at their school and explained the impact it has made.

"Children are learning in that garden, and it's not just for them," Holz said. "They are also growing vegetables that we take to the soup kitchen."

Burke said it's made a significant impact on teachers, and said now she always keeps her "grant ears" open when she hears ideas that could be a good candidate for a grant.

"It gets us thinking out of the box," she said.

For the first time, the foundation picked an "Innovator of the Year." Three teachers who received grants last year were chosen for exemplary grant projects, and one winner was picked to receive an additional $1,000 to go toward the grant project.

Renee Reavis was named "Innovator of the Year" for "Get a Poducation." Runners-up were Gwendolyn James, of Clarke Elementary, for "Micro Postal System," and Lisa Brinson, of Union Grove Middle School, for "Lights, Camera, Action! Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving through Cross-Curricular Filmmaking."

The Charles Patterson Living Legacy Scholarship was awarded to fourth-grade Oveta Culp Elementary School teacher Anne Marie Rodriguez-Victory. Through this scholarship, she will be able to attend the National Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Also recognized at the luncheon were the Education Foundation's charter board members: Elizabeth Bigham, Annie Roe Buckley, Peggy French, Mary Gauer, Connie Kuehl and Dr. Charles Patterson.

Education Foundation president Ken Finch thanked the many individual and corporate donors which enable the foundation to award grants.

"All of this is done in the spirit of trying to create a better community," he said. "... Being involved in the community in this way is probably one of the best things you can do."

Sponsors were thanked as they symbolically signed oversized checks to the foundation during the luncheon ceremony. Partners include:

n Platinum Partners: Actus Lend Lease, LLC, Huckabee Community Excellence Fund of the Community Foundation of North Texas and the Scientific Learning Corporation.

n Gold Partners: Embarq, Parsons Commercial Roofing and Time Warner Cable.

n Silver Partners: First National Bank Texas/Fort Hood National Bank, Lott, Vernon & Co., P.C., CPAs, and Metroplex Health System.

n Bronze Partners: Leroy and Elizabeth Bingham, Herff Jones/Overall Office, JM Electronic Engineering, Dr. Henry and Joyce Mayer, Mary Sloan, Union State Bank, Peggy French, Indeco Sales, Frank W. And Anyse Sue Mayborn Foundation, Bill and Jean Shine, Superintendent's Council, Greater Central Texas Federal Credit Union, retired Gen. Robert M. Shoemaker and Technology for Education.

Contact Hillary S. Meeks at

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