Junior League grants fund innovation in Dallas ISD classrooms

The Junior League of Dallas (JLD), along with presenting sponsor Texas Instruments (TI), awarded 69 Dallas ISD educators with grants of up to $2,000 each through the Grants for Innovative Teaching (GFIT) program.

This JLD Signature Project has awarded more than $1.7 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. This year, $123,307 was distributed to fund deserving educators’ winning projects.

Sponsors include: Texas Instruments (presenting sponsor); MoneyGram Foundation; Agnes Cluthe Oliver Foundation; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation; Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee; and W.P. & Bulah Luse Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trusee.

Some of the grants selected include: Invent an Alien; Powerful City; Kids Helping Kids; and The Wall Book Study and Comic Book Project.

Invent an Alien is a project designed by Lynn DeFord at Johnston Elementary School where students will create an alien who could inhabit the planet or other environment that they have chosen. They will create a 3D model, diagram or poster of this alien out of materials they can find at home. Students will consider the atmosphere, composition, atmospheric pressure, gravitational pull and the other characteristics of their planet.

The goal of the Powerful City project by Tamara Thomas at D.A Hulcy STEAM Middle School is to help teach students about all three forms of energy, soil, and scale models in a tangible way. Students will build wind turbines, solar panels, and hydraulic generators to power a small city that they will build based off scale models of actual buildings that the students will design and create using a Makerbot 3D printer. All of these concepts are things that are taught in science and math, and the children will receive an enhanced learning opportunity through this project.

Teacher Terry Stotts’ Kids Helping Kids is a project carried out by special needs students in the Construction Trades Cluster at Multiple Careers Magnet High School. Students will construct wooden toy rocking horses to be donated to kids staying at Ronald McDonald House while they are receiving medical treatment during the Christmas Holidays, as well as students at Maya Angelou High School who are mothers-to-be. By taking part in this innovative project, students are prepared to be productive, responsible citizens with good work habits, attitudes and career skills.

Dallas Environmental Science Academy’s Katie Hairgrove created The Wall Book Study and Comic Strip Project to improve students’ comprehension of the characteristics of free enterprise and communist economic systems by reading and analyzing a graphic novel, The Wall, by Peter Sis. Students will showcase their understanding by creating a comic strip describing their journey into the world of Peter Sis, where they experience communism as he did as a young child.

“Now in its 25th year, this Signature Project encourages excellence in education by providing funding for special projects that otherwise would not be possible within school budgets,” said Eleanor Luna, the 2017-2018 GFIT Chair. “The Grants For Innovative Teaching program is one of the most rewarding projects for The Junior League of Dallas because we get to follow along and see the impact that these projects have on the schools, educators and students.”

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