Three Fall Gripp Grants totaling $10,026 were awarded to our D39 schools which will have a positive impact on our students. These grants will provide innovative opportunities for a range of students in our elementary schools and at Highcrest Middle School.
Two Spring Gripp Grants totaling $15,519 were awarded to 12 teachers across all four elementary schools and will benefit students from our earliest learners in the Lechner Early Education Program (LEEP) through fourth grade. The grants address both the need for kids to move their bodies in new and innovative ways, as well as to learn and practice literacy in the digital world.
Two Spring Gripp Grants totaling $8,705 were awarded to 12 teachers, library professionals, and administrators, which will positively impact every student in the District by addressing needs encompassing those resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Kristin Johnson, Early Childhood LBS teacher, Elizabeth Foley, Early Childhood LBS teacher, Stacy Levine, Kindergarten teacher (Romona), Kristen Olsen, Comprehensive LBS (Romona), Stephanie Boron, Early Childhood SLP, Cindy Anderson, Principal (Romona), Lisa Anderson, Assistant Principal (Romona), and Amanda Barton, Early Childhood Coordinator, received a grant to build an all-seasons outdoor classroom to be used by the District’s Early Childhood program, as well as Romona Elementary students in grades K-2. The wooden structure will take the form of a cafe including a “mud kitchen”, dining area, and work table, and will be called the Romona Mud Cafe. The goal of this project is to provide a space that allows students a year-round, nature-rich environment to learn through play-based, imaginative, and collaborative experiences. In addition, the space can be used for curriculum based lessons and will be universally accessible to the diverse community of students at Romona.
The Board of Trustees of the District 39 Educational Foundation proudly announces a $3000 gift to District 39 to support the implementation of SORA – the Student Reading App, from Overdrive.
Five Spring 2020 Gripp Grants totaling $17,104 were awarded to 12 teachers, positively impacting students and inspiring learners at each of the District 39’s six schools.
Bonny Skutch, Differentiation Specialist Teacher at Central, received a grant to bring Tang Math ‘Math Mania Days’ to each of the District 39 schools, which will be co-funded by the district. Math Mania Days will provide an immersive full day experience at each school for students, teachers and parents in the 2020/21 school year and will include: student assemblies, materials for teachers and students, professional development training for teachers, and family math nights led by Greg Tang. The goal of this program is to enhance mathematical fluency for students, develop best practices for teaching math fluency for teachers, and educate parents about how to support math fluency at home.
Learning Behavior Specialists, Julia Ryan (Romona), Kristen Olsen (Romona), Jen Archer (Central), Amanda Kahana (Central), Nate Rahn (McKenzie) and Cori Piper (McKenzie) received a grant to purchase 37 curriculum tasks from ‘Shoe Box Tasks’. These task boxes will allow students with low incidence disabilities to have access to instruction that is systematic, direct and conducive for academic growth. In addition, task boxes can be used in inclusion opportunities with peers.
Jessie Kerber, 4th grade teacher at Harper, and the fourth grade team at Harper will pilot The Nora Curriculum for the 2020/21 school year as a possible social emotional learning (SEL) program for the district. The goals of this SEL curriculum are to promote inclusion and empathy in the classroom in a rich, involved, hands-on, regular basis through consistent curriculum throughout the school year.
Andrea Dwenger, 7th grade math teacher, and Jennifer Wood, 8th grade math teacher, received a grant to transform the math office space connected to their shared classroom. The Math Zen Den will provide a more relaxing space for small group testing, reteaching and when students need a break to refocus and relieve anxieties associated with math assessments. Students actively participated in the designing of the space.
Nicole Martin, 2nd grade teacher at Romona, and Sammi Zauner, teacher for the visually impaired , received a grant to install a specialized Braille Panel and Braille Labels for the planned new playground at Romona School. The Braille Panel and Labels will promote inclusion with all students while in social settings. In addition, the Braille Panels and Labels would be used during lessons on Helen Keller and for disability awareness activities.
Congratulations to Paula Lundell, McKenzie School OT, for the Encore Gripp Grant awarded to her for a hallway sensory path. Encore Grants are awarded for Foundation-funded projects that have previously been successful within D39 schools. In this case, sensory paths were awarded to each D39 elementary school last spring and are being used by students in each school with great success. McKenzie’s hallways were carpeted at that time so a sensory mat was purchased to use in the school’s motor room. Now McKenzie School has new linoleum hallways and is ready to have the same sensory path experience for its students. This Encore Grant will allow McKenzie students to benefit from a path that engages them in a sensory motor activity during transitions.
Cheri Bridge and Jill Forti, Technology Specialists at WJHS, were awarded a grant to purchase 29 MERGE cubes to support the initiation of the D39 Augmented Reality program, which builds upon the existing Virtual Reality program. MERGE cubes allow students to visualize complex systems by turning 3D models into a virtual object that students can manipulate, allowing them to better ‘experience’ the content they are studying.
All four elementary schools will benefit from the grant for Sensory Paths to be installed in each of the schools. A Sensory Path is an organized course typically placed in a school hallway that encourages a routine, predictable motor break and provides students with an additional place to take ‘brain breaks’ during the school day. This grant was a collaborative effort involving 10 staff members, namely: Elyse Adamo (Romona LBS), Michelle Mermelstein (Romona OT), Lindsey Barnes (Romona Early Childhood OT), Gabrielle Young (Romona 1st Grade Teacher), Muffy Pinney (Harper Librarian), Anne Clark (Harper LBS), Emma Hearty (Central LBS), Kathleen Peth (Central PE Teacher), Andrea Zito (Central Nurse), Paula Lundell (McKenzie OT).
Four Gripp Grants were awarded on November 14th for the Fall 2018 grant season.
Jeneane Pence, Highcrest PE teacher, was awarded a grant for 30 Zone watches to assist students with heart rate monitoring during PE activities. Students will get accurate, real time feedback while still active to help them make a connection between their intensity level and heart rate. Teachers will also be able to use this information to personalize the students’ fitness goals.
D39 Student Services Coordinator, Taylor Harvey and Romona/Harper Assistant Principal, Elena Ryan were awarded a grant to purchase 20 Qballs and JBL Flip portable speakers which will be used in all D39 elementary schools. A Qball is a ball-shaped microphone that sends a user’s voice via Bluetooth to a speaker that amplifies their words for all to hear. It can be passed or tossed around the classroom as students answer questions, read papers, and contribute to conversations. It supports collaboration in the classroom and an inclusive and shared learning environment for all students including those with speech and hearing special needs.
All elementary schools will benefit from the grant for 32 Sphero BOLT robots awarded to the four schools’ technology teachers Julie Garry, Lauren Wysocke, Beth Cummo and Christina Rosario. Each school was granted 8 robots which will provide students with a hands-on opportunity to expand their coding skills. With three different coding canvases – Draw, Block and Text – that move from beginner to advanced coding skills, the robots can be differentiated by age group and coding ability. Robots will be used in many different classes including math, social studies, art, etc.
Central PE teacher, Kathleen Peth, was awarded a grant to purchase 5 Gameballs to be used in PE. These balls link via Bluetooth to nine game apps that voice directions for each activity as well as updates scores, distance, etc. These games give students immediate feedback on their game skills and technique. These games can utilize math, measurement and competitive skills as well.
Due to the resounding success of Meghan Espinoza’s 2017 Gripp Grant for pedal desks in her 6th grade classroom, the D39 Educational Foundation has gifted Highcrest and WJHS up to $5000 to purchase approximately 144 under-desk pedal units to be used in classrooms across the two campuses.
Moticams: Dr. Peter Ower, requested the purchase of 4 Moticams (one per classroom) to enhance the 7th grade science curriculum. Moticams are special cameras that can be mounted to the lab microscopes already in use at Wilmette Junior High School. These cameras will allow students to take pictures of their work in biology and share this work with their teachers and other students. The current practice is for students to hand draw what they view in the microscopes or in some cases attempt to photograph their findings with iPads. Moticams will eliminate this cumbersome practice, streamline the workflow during biology labs, and encourage collaboration between lab groups and science classes. The Foundation was so excited about the potential for these cameras to significantly impact students’ class work, that the board approved the requested 4 cameras plus an additional 20 cameras. This gift allows for six cameras per classroom, or approximately 1 camera per 6 students.
Raspberry Pi Boards: Connie Clark, related arts teacher at Highcrest, was awarded a grant to purchase Raspberry Pi coding boards for her Introduction to Computational Thinking Classes. The Raspberry Pi boards will be integrated into Ms. Clarks’ curriculum providing differentiated instruction for the varying coding skill levels of her students. The grant will purchase 12 Raspberry Pi programming boards, two monitors, protective cases and all required accessories to support this Highcrest course.
Multi-Sensory Equipment for Comprehensive Needs Classrooms: Betsy Crosswhite was awarded a Gripp Grant on behalf of the parent advisory committee PASS39. Mrs. Crosswhite’s grant will provide innovative multi-sensory equipment for each of the comprehensive needs classroom areas throughout the district. Often, some special needs students can become overwhelmed with the continual sensory inputs during a regular school day and finding a quiet place to re-group is required. The elementary schools will each receive two bubble water tubes that can be used to calm and re-center students through soothing sounds and soft lights. Highcrest and WJHS will each receive a back-lit LED marble wall panel. This large-scale sensory tool with soothing lights and marbles will assist students in their efforts to calm themselves. The purchase of these tools for all the schools will provide a unique experience to help these students stay at their ideal regulatory state. The equipment will be placed in the classrooms in Dr. Denise Thrasher’s name as appreciation for all she has done in the past 18 years to make education and learning more accessible for this population of students.
Six Gripp Grants were funded for the 2017 Fall grant cycle:
Mayaan Sloane and Samantha Sutton, Highcrest Technology Innovation Specialists, were granted the purchase of video and recording equipment to transition the weekly WHMS News into a live student written, directed and executed broadcast. Currently only two students per homeroom participate in the broadcast creation and all of the editing, filming, etc. is done by Ms. Sloane and Ms. Sutton. The new, student-led format allows one homeroom each week to write, prepare, film and star in the broadcast. Students will choose roles: scriptwriter, feature creator, anchor, editor, camera operator, sound mixer, meteorologist, or producer. Every student who desires to participate will have the chance to actively create a final live broadcast shared with their classmates and community.
The elementary school Differentiation Specialist Teachers, led by McKenzie’s Julie Garry, were awarded a grant to create individual recording studios. This inventive grant will fund the creation of sound-proof cubes to be used across all 4 elementary schools. The cubes will enable students to record assignments onto their laptops and iPads in a “soundproof booth”. The cubes will aid in the production quality of individual recordings and provide a private space for less confident learners. Thanks to this grant each school will have 12 recording studios available for use in their Learning Commons.
Rachel Frost, WJHS Technology Applications Teacher, will purchase 9 Cue the Cleverbots to augment the current Technology Applications courses with a more sophisticated hands-on coding experience. These robots bridge the gap between simplicity and complexity experienced by 8th grade students learning to code. When students are coding in Python, it is difficult for them to visualize what they’re creating, because they only see output of numbers and letters. This does not align with the advanced, flashy technology they know and use daily. By programming a robot using Python, students will be able to test and see the physical output of their program. This experience helps them actualize what they’re coding, build confidence and interest, and bridge the gap between the computer and physical worlds.
WJHS and Highcrest Library/Information Specialists, Daphna Neirick and Kristy Rieger, were awarded a grant to pilot a NewsELA Pro news subscription service providing quality news and article sources tailored to students’ individual learning abilities. This pilot will allow Highcrest and WJHS to evaluate the usability of NewsELA Pro, a high-quality, reliable reading subscription series that can be tailored to a student’s reading and understanding level, in relation to other subscription series currently used within the district.
Harper School’s art teacher, Katherine Robinson was awarded a grant to purchase materials to fund her school wide Only You art project. All children at Harper will read Only You by Linda Kranz. Following class discussion students will have the opportunity to paint a small rock inspired by the book’s message: There is only one you in this big world, make it a better place. Upon completion, the rocks will be used to create a pathway in the Harper School Outdoor classroom.
Central School’s Julie Mirabelli and Kathleen Peth partnered on a grant to purchase Kid Power Bands for Mrs. Mirabelli’s third grade classroom. The bands combine individual fitness tracking with the reward of assisting individuals in underdeveloped countries. As the students track their physical activity they will unlock charity funding for the country of their choice. In addition to directing charity dollars to their chosen country they will learn more about the part of the world they are assisting. The grant will help Mrs. Mirabelli’s third graders improve their fitness, set and achieve personal goals, and gain a broader global perspective.
The Foundation approved two Gripp Grants for the Fall 2016 grant cycle – Breakout EDU boxes and Google Chromebooks.
- Mobile learning in the Learning Commons (Harper): This grant will purchase two items to help with innovative learning in the new Harper Learning Commons. Teachers, Beth Cummo, Muffy Pinney, Sue Flachsbart, and principal Dr. Sue Kick requested the purchase of hanging whiteboards and 25 Google Expeditions View-Masters. The whiteboards will be utilized for group instruction and can be pulled down from the walls by the students when working on their own or in small groups. The Google Expeditions View-Masters are virtual reality tools that will transport learners to different learning platforms including space and foreign countries.
- Professional Development and Parent Training with Dr. Jo Boalar and Dr. Cathy Williams (District office of Curriculum and Instruction): The Educational Foundation is partnering with District 39 to bring Stanford University Professors, Dr. Jo Boaler and Dr. Cathy Williams to our Wilmette schools. Dr. Boaler and Dr. Williams are research leaders in the field of mathematics instruction and are coming to share their findings on applying a growth mindset to math. This cutting edge research is applicable across all disciplines and leads to students seeing their abilities as expandable and improvable, resulting in a decrease in classroom anxiety. In addition to working with the District 39 staff, the professors will conduct a parent education event. The events are scheduled for September 29-30, 2016.
- Lego Learning Walls (Central): Central School’s Differentiation Specialist, Bonny Skutch, and a group of dedicated 4th grade students submitted this grant to fund a Lego Learning Wall in their Learning Commons and two mobile Lego learning units that can be moved to classrooms. TheLego Learning Wall will be used in math instruction and in story development for language arts classes.
- Stride track for Mileage Club (Central): Several years ago Central school PE teacher Kathleen Peth started Mileage Club, an extremely popular recess activity. The Mileage Club is a wonderful activity for individuals or groups that encourages kids to stay active, and to set goals for their own physical fitness. The Stride track will allow Ms. Peth to automate the tracking of each child’s accomplishments. In addition, each child will have access to their individual data to track their goals and physical fitness. Ms. Peth has partnered with the Central School PTA to continue the ongoing success of this program following its pilot year.
- Ancient Greeks at the Field Museum (Highcrest): Alexandra Vastardis and her her 80 6th grade Latin students will attend the Field Museum to visit the special exhibit on ancient Greece, Agamemnon to Alexander the Great. This showcase event is a joint exhibit with the national Hellenic Museum showcasing over 500 ancient artifacts, many shown for the first time in North America. The students will each research an artifact and upon returning to school will create a virtual museum to share with 5th grade Latin students. The virtual museum will be available for future Latin students and for thee 6th grade social studies teachers to aide their study of ancient Greece. This grant was funded in partnership with the Highcrest PTO.
The Foundation is pleased to announce that we awarded four Gripp grants this fall totaling $5,802. Three grants were awarded to McKenzie school and one to the special education departments for Highcrest Middle School and Wilmette Junior High.
- Content Area Literacy and the Common Core Conference:
Second grade teachers, Jennifer Weil and Erin Schroeder are excited to participate in a forward thinking conference at Teacher’s College in New York. The Reading and Writing Project Conference is focused on innovative strategies for fully engaging students in the new English Language Arts curriculum under Common Core. Content material will be shared district wide among all elementary ELA teachers.
- Makey Makeys:
Funding from this grant enhances both the 4th grade science and technology curriculum, enabling Julie Garry and the technology to purchase 30 Makey Makeys. These innovative kits are sure to enrich the current 4th grade science unit on electricity. Working together in small groups, the Makey Makey kits will allow students to make their own musical instruments they can program themselves. Makey Makeys will combine their knowledge of electrical circuits with the coding there are learning in technology class.
- Marvel Focus Desks:
Lauren Siegel and Teresa Alfaro, 4th grade teachers, will be piloting the use of a state-of-the-art adjustable desk in their classrooms. The Marvel Focus Desks, are designed to adapt to the individual child and their learning environment, especially helpful to those with unique learning needs.
Highcrest and Wilmette Junior High
- Adaptive Musical Instruments:
The grant is a partnership between the music instructors and special education departments in grades 5 through 8. This grant will fund the purchase of seven types of musical instruments to be used by students with comprehensive learning needs and/or physical challenges. Teachers are thrilled that this equipment will allow students within the comprehensive learning center to fully participate in the High Five Choir and their related arts classes. Teachers leading this initiative include Arlene Frost, Jana Martin, Maggie Sacksteder, Stephan Spellman, Zach Sundeman, Kellie Truppa, and Sarah Whitaker.
The 2015 Spring round of Gripp Grants were awarded on March 26th. This grant cycle the Foundation approved four grants for projects at four different schools.
8th grade teachers Beth Kalish and Beth Cummo will pilot transforming a classroom at WJHS into a flexible learning space. Node desks with swivel seats and built-in stands for tablets, and white boards will be purchased to create a fluid environment. The classroom will be adaptable to suit different learning needs such as small-group work, whole classroom discussions, debates, collaborative work, etc.
At HMS, 6th grade teacher Eric Resis will pilot differentiated seating options with new, adjustable-height desks. The goal is to provide movement to help maintain focus and attention.
The students at McKenzie will soon have reusable water glasses and pitchers to use in the cafeteria thanks to a grant awarded to the McKenzie PTA and principal Denise Welter. This grant teaches the impact of recycling on our environment and the nutritional importance of water.
The final grant this spring funds the Emmy Noether Project at Romona. This 3-year project aims to raise awareness of deeply rooted societal attitudes and practices related to gender bias as it relates to math. Through teacher training, parent education and programming for young girls, one of the goals is to encourage girls to view their math abilities as expandable and improvable.
Visit our Gripp Grant page to learn more.
The Foundation awarded 5 Gripp Grants this fall, totaling over $4,100. The 4th grade teachers at Romona will purchase automobile artifacts for students to examine during their inventions study using the 5 lenses of the new social studies curriculum. Romona’s Early Childhood Evaluation Team received a grant to create 3 new play scheme boxes to improve their assessment process.
WJHS Drama teacher, Dinah Barthelmess at WJHS will use her grant to conduct a Process Drama unit in her Improv Classes on “Us and Them” focusing on diversity and tolerance through a collaboration with Canadian teaching artist, Margaret Boersma. Also at WJHS, Yiyi Xu, the Mandarin teacher, will purchase an application to help students with reading proficiency and advanced vocabulary.
Lastly, Central’s 2nd grade teacher Susan Morris will use funds for technology to help with “fliperentiation” and cloned teacher mini lessons to reinforce concepts to accommodate the differentiation among students’ capabilities and learning styles. We look forward to seeing these grants in action and how our students will benefit from the innovative ideas of our talented D39 teachers!
For the 2013-2014 school year the Foundation has awarded over $30,000 in Gripp Grants! And, this year all six D39 schools received at least one grant to expand, enrich and complement the curriculum. Four grants were approved for the spring grant cycle.
Parlez vous francais? Highcrest’s French teacher, Katie Fox’s students will be able to develop vocabulary, grasp story meaning and flow with new French fairy tale books purchased with her Gripp Grant. Using familiar tales will give students confidence, a frame of reference and enhance the foreign language reading experience.
“Recess is a time for fun, but it isn’t much fun for kids who feel left out or lonely”. Ms. Belconis’ 5th grade class at Highcrest read that quote in a Scholastic News magazine article from a boy who came up with the idea for a “Buddy Bench”. The class submitted a grant and now HMS will have two Buddy Benches on their playground where kids can sit if they aren’t feeling included and others will know they want to talk or play. The benches can be for someone who needs a friend and for someone who can become a friend. They are a great tool for teaching empathy towards peers.
Romona’s playground will have a new Gaga Ball arena next fall thanks to a Foundation grant. This game is a form of dodge ball, played in a wooden, octagonal-shaped arena, that everyone can play. Gaga Ball will give the students another organized game to play at recess and in PE class.
Multimedia books offer additional benefits that print books can not including note-taking and highlighting abilities, a dictionary, read-aloud features, follow-along text highlighting and year-round 24/7 accessibility from home of school. Romona library will have a new multimedia book collection using funds from our fourth Gripp Grant this spring. The collection will include eBooks, interactive eBooks and digital audiobooks.
The foundation will be supporting a number of innovative initiatives within the D39 schools with five new grants that were recently awarded. The grant for Central School’s 21st Century Learning Space will pilot the initial phase of creating a collaborative learning area by reconfiguring the computer lab, library and adjoining classrooms. This new student-centered space will include technologies and other tools, space configurations and furnishings to facilitate various learning modes, and more.
Pre-loaded, portable audio books called Playaways, will be purchased for Harper’s library thanks to a Foundation grant. Playaways increase opportunities for students of all reading abilities to have creative, educational, and successful literature experiences both in school and at home, provide support for struggling readers, and give all students access to more challenging text.
HMS will host composer Quincy C. Hilliard as artisan-in-residence for the sixth grade Hawks Band on February 19, 2014. The band will be performing several of his compositions in an upcoming concert and what better way to elevate their performance and understanding of the music than to have the actual composer teach it! Dr. Hilliard will rehearse with the band, provide students with his insight as a world-renown composer/conductor and hold small group master clinics throughout his day at Highcrest.
A similar grant was awarded for both HMS and WJHS to host artisan-in-residence Andra Durham, a classically trained violist who now fiddles and performs in Nashville. Ms. Durham, who grew up in Wilmette, will conduct an all-day master class for the 5th-8th grade orchestra students on February 26, 2014 and teach fiddling techniques and bluegrass music. Later that evening during the orchestra’s Stringapolooza concert, the students will play a fiddle piece with Ms. Durham that they learned and rehearsed earlier in the day.
Colleen Chick, a first grade teacher at McKenzie will purchase a GoPro camera with funds from the Foundation’s fifth grant this cycle. This camera will be used as an integrated and student-directed technology tool to increase independence and intrinsic motivation in the classroom. The students and teacher will employ the GoPro camera as a resource to support writing, develop presentation and expressive language skills, document scientific processes, and inspire creativity across the curriculum.
Tanzania Sister School Program (Central)
Central School classrooms will be receiving Tanzanian artifact boxes to complement their Sister School Program thanks to a Gripp Grant from the D39 Educational Foundation. These boxes will include hand-crafted artifacts, maps, flags, games and many other items that will enable Central students to make personal connections with the students in their sister school located in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. This program has expanded students’ perspective of our cultural similarities and differences and the foundation is pleased to be able to broaden students’ awareness of different cultures with these hands-on materials.