The Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 will fund 11 teacher grants totaling more than $5,500 through its 2020-21 Teacher Grants Program. The Foundation annually awards grants to teachers and staff for projects that support student learning.
“This year’s Teacher Grants Program will fund a variety of timely, relevant and important grants, such as books that will increase diversity in classroom libraries and tools to enhance student remote learning,” said Briana Richardson, the Foundation’s grant coordinator. “We realize that the COVID-19 pandemic has added new challenges to instruction, and the Foundation was very impressed with how teachers leveraged the Teachers Grants Program to support projects that can fit the needs of remote and hybrid learners. We are proud to fund these grants!”
Teachers submit their grant applications in September, and the Foundation’s Grants Committee completes a thorough and blind review of all grant proposals. The Foundation selects projects that show strong potential to impact instruction using innovative tools and/or techniques. Project proposals must align with the District’s curriculum goals and have measurable outcomes, among other requirements.
“The Foundation’s Teacher Grants Program annually helps our teachers and staff complement their instruction with innovative and creative resources,” said Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell.
“On behalf of District 58, I sincerely thank the Education Foundation for their continued support of our mission and goals. I also thank the countless families, staff and community members who have supported our Foundation’s fundraisers.”
Proceeds from the Education Foundation’s fundraisers—which include Oktoberfest, the Harlem Wizards game and the Green Apple program—cover the cost of the grants.
Congratulations to this year’s grant recipients!
2020-21 Education Foundation Grant Recipients:
- “Hands on Fun” awarded to Kendall Buege, Henry Puffer’s Grove Children’s Preschool teacher
This grant will fund a variety of preschool-appropriate hands-on learning tools, including an alphabots puzzle, glittery sensory spheres and hands-on floam. These tools will help preschoolers build self-regulation skills and learn fine motor skills in a hands-on format.
- “Cultural Representation through Trade Books” awarded to Katie Gallagher, Kingsley second grade teacher
This grant will add a variety of multicultural books to this teacher’s classroom library. The grant aims to give young students access to books featuring people of different races, from different countries, and with different experiences, with the goal of increasing students’ empathy and respect for others.
- “Multicultural Library” awarded to Georgina Cervantes, Highland and Herrick ELL teacher
This grant will provide a variety of multicultural and diverse texts for the teacher’s English language learner (ELL) classroom. The books will promote cultural perspectives and encourage global awareness for students.
- “Diversity in the Library” awarded to Mary Loversky, El Sierra teacher librarian
This grant will add more diverse and inclusive books to the school’s library. The grant aims to give students with diverse backgrounds the opportunity to see more characters in books that are similar to themselves. It will also help all students see diverse characters with different life experiences, leading to greater understanding and empathy for those with different backgrounds.
- “Enhancing the Classroom Library with a Spotlight on African American Young Adult Literature” awarded to Kate Nickell and Nicole Ferroli, O’Neill English-language arts teachers
This grant would increase the cultural diversity reflected in these teachers’ existing classroom libraries. The grant will add several powerful and relevant young adult books that feature African American protagonists to these teachers’ classroom libraries.
- “Nearpod” awarded to the following District 58 teacher librarians: Mary Loversky, El Sierra; Leslie Hesterman, Hillcrest; Jamie Krier, Kingsley; Christina Forzely, Indian Trail; and Lucy Elford, Pierce Downer
This grant funds “Nearpod,” an interactive platform for creating engaging lessons that incorporates different forms of multimedia to enhance learning. This tool can be used for both remote, hybrid and in-person learning. It will be shared among their five teacher librarians’ schools.
- “Building a Community of Readers” awarded to Alison Brechtel, Herrick English-language arts teacher
This grant will fund a variety of high-interest books at a variety of reading levels, with the goal of helping even the most reluctant middle school readers find a book that will interest them.
- “PebbleGo Next” awarded to Joan Mommsen, Belle Aire teacher librarian
This grant would fund “PebbleGo Next,” a comprehensive research tool for students in grades 3-5 that aligns to Illinois learning standards. The school currently subscribes to “PebbleGo,” which serves primary students. “PebbleGo Next” would transition intermediate students to the next level.
- “Our Steps Matter” awarded to Sarah Pinkus and Jennifer Johnson, O’Neill science teacher
This grant would provide liquid floor tiles that would serve as an interactive kinesthetic science lesson. Students would observe and measure the effect their footprints have on liquid. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction - even footsteps! This project aims to foster inquiry, high-level questioning, collaborative work and smiles among students.
- “Nonfiction Book Collection” awarded to Christina Forzley, Indian Trail teacher librarian
This grant will update the school’s primary nonfiction book collection to include more engaging, relevant and accessible books for all students.
- “BrainPop ELL” awarded to Natalie Notardonato, Fairmount and O’Neill ELL Teacher
This grant will add BrainPop ELL to the apps available for English language learner (ELL) students in District 58. This app will help ELL students enhance their education as they progress with their English language skills.
For more information about the Education Foundation, please visit www.58foundation.org.