For 50 Dallas Independent School District educators, Christmas came early on Tuesday, September 10, at the Junior League of Dallas (JLD) headquarters. As part of JLD’s Grants for Innovative Teaching (GFIT) program, nearly $100,000 was presented to the recipients thanks in large part due to support from Presenting Sponsor Texas Instruments and the Agnes Cluthe Oliver Foundation. Joining the handout of checks were JLD President Brooke Bailey, JLD GFIT Chair Lara Bubalo, JLD Signature Projects VP Beth Boyd and DSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Ivonne Durant and Texas Instrument Foundation Executive Director Andy Smith. Here’s a report from the field:
On the evening of Tuesday, September 10, the Junior League of Dallas (JLD), along with presenting sponsor Texas Instruments (TI), awarded 50 Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) educators with grants of up to $2,000 each through the annual Grants for Innovative Teaching (GFIT) program. This year, more than $92,000 was distributed to fund deserving educators’ winning projects. Other sponsors include the Agnes Cluthe Oliver Foundation.
Some of the grants selected include: Kids Helping Kids, Master Regulators of Pancreas Develop, The Sun is All We Need, Smart Trash Can, Woodrow Percolators and Molina Film School Project.
Two additional grants awarded this year include: STEAM Class at Woodrow Wilson High School, which incorporates TI technology, and Creativity and Performance through Hip Hop DJ, which will be implemented by a teacher who previously received the honor of Dallas ISD Educator of the Year.
- STEAM Class project will provide free robotic workshop camps led by Woodrow Wilson High School juniors and seniors. The camps will be geared toward lower-income Dallas ISD elementary and middle school students, and will expose them to STEAM-related activities, including building robot kits, while also allowing high school students to serve as mentors to their young peers. This project will build on a previous GFIT grant to expand on existing robotic workshop camps.
- DISD Educator of the Year Grant: Creativity and Performance through Hip Hop DJ will teach 8th grade students enrolled in the Modern Band 3 course basic DJ’ing skills. This grant will purchase DJ equipment that will be incorporated into an existing unit that will include school and community performances. Through this project, students will have the ability to connect their classroom learning to hands-on vocational learning and find out about careers including DJ, sound engineer, hip hop artist, song writer and producer.
- Kids Helping Kids provides the opportunity for special needs students at Multiple Careers Magnet Center to construct wooden rocking horses for children staying at the Ronald McDonald House during the Christmas holidays. In addition to bringing a bit of holiday cheer, students participating in this project will develop good habits, positive attitudes and valuable career skills that can be used beyond the classroom.
- Master Regulators of Pancreas Develop allows high school students participating in the Biomedical Research Program to work before and after school, and on weekends, conducting a variety of laboratory research projects on embryonic pancreas development. They will present their graduate-level work at the 2020 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology convention and compete in the Regeneron Supporting Strong Science Scholarship program.
- The Sun is All We Need is a yearlong project where 8th grade students at DA Hulcy STEAM Middle School will participate in designing and building the ultimate solar powered car. Not only will their car need to be fast, but it will also need to be cost efficient and affordable to create, adding another layer to the project.
- The “Smart Trash Can” project will allow high school students enrolled in Environmental Science and Physics courses to develop an easy-to-use, inexpensive recycling device. The school currently does not recycle and produces an average of 1,200 plastic bottles a day. Once the smart trashcans are developed, students throughout the entire school will scan their ID badges when they recycle and will earn points that can be redeemed in the school cafeteria, school store and with teachers; incorporating theory and applied learning to create a simple solution for a global issue.
- Woodrow Percolators is a continuation of a GFIT-funded program from last year in which deaf education students operate a coffee cart for faculty. The project focuses on social skills, money management and interpersonal skills in order to help students develop a positive self- identity and achieve success.
- The Molina Film Project will allow 9th through 12th grade theatre students the opportunity to participate in creative collaboration by making an original short film. Students will have the opportunity to write, edit, direct, act and film. Through this process, students will learn to use 21st century technology skills (operating a camera, using editing software and setting up lighting and sound equipment) and to communicate a message through the art of filmmaking and
“Now in its 27th year, this JLD Signature Project encourages excellence by awarding educators who go above and beyond to provide special projects for their students that would otherwise not be possible within school budgets,” said Lara Bubalo Manor, the 2019-2020 GFIT chair. “The Grants for Innovative Teaching program is one of the most rewarding initiatives for the League because we get to follow along and see the impact that these projects have on the schools, educators and students.”
Since 1992, this JLD Signature Project has awarded more than $1.9 million to Dallas ISD educators and is designed to encourage excellence in education by funding special projects addressing: reading and literacy enrichment; diversity; special education; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); or arts and culture enrichment across one or more grade levels.
* Photo credit: Celeste Cameron