Christmas came early for two dozen Keller district educators at 16 campuses who received grants from the Keller ISD Education Foundation.
The foundation officers, along with district officials, visited schools Dec. 9 and 12 to hand out giant checks totaling almost $49,000 and let teachers and librarians know they had won.
Projects ranged from robotics and virtual reality devices to musical gadgets and traveling museums.
“They really are like Santa Claus for us,” said Cheri Baxter, art teacher at Sunset Valley Elementary School.
Baxter received grants for four projects, including a 3D printer, an outdoor stage and supplies to decorate rocks for a rock garden.
A project Baxter named “ROCKin IT!” allows students to paint a design on their own rock, which will become part of a flower bed at the school, which opened in August.
“Since we’re new at Sunset Valley, this gives kids a chance to feel like they’re leaving a legacy,” Baxter said.
Christy Goff, a fifth- and sixth-grade language arts teacher at Parkwood Hill Intermediate, received funds to transform her classroom for three different units: a CSI lab, a pirate ship and a Harry Potter-style courtroom.
The $541 grant allows her to buy decorations, games and props that go along with lessons on sharpening reading skills and persuasive writing.
Goff said she got the idea from attending a Ron Clark Academy training program for educators. Last year, she transformed her classroom with an “Alice in Wonderland” theme and kids loved it.
“Whatever you can do to keep them engaged in learning and interested in school, especially at the middle and intermediate school age, is really important,” she said.
Phil Youngblood, an engineering teacher at Central High School, received a grant to start a program open to secondary students from across the district.
SeaPerch is a national program encouraging students to build underwater robots to complete a series of challenges, from navigating an underwater obstacle course to picking up items and placing them in a rack.
Youngblood plans to hold a SeaPerch Underwater Remote Operated Vehicle Challenge at the Keller ISD Natatorium in May for students to demonstrate their robots.
The water adds other dimensions with figuring out buoyancy and the ability to move in more directions, he said. Students learn about Newton’s Law, electronics, physics and more.
Since it began in 2005, the Keller ISD Education Foundation has awarded more than $435,000 in teacher grants and student scholarships.
Paige Pohle-Bussey, the foundation’s executive director, said, “We are so grateful for our donors and supporters who help make this all possible. Keller ISD is a relatively low funded school district and to be able to provide children with opportunities that are outside of what public funding provides is something we are proud of and thankful for.”
For more information, go to kisdfoundation.net.