Return to Headlines

District awards teacher grants for innovation

Brittany Knight

Princeton ISD awarded funding to 10 innovative projects that teachers will implement in their classrooms next fall.

The check presentations resembled a Publisher’s Clearinghouse commercial as PISD administrators dropped in on the winning teachers to present them with an oversized check. These celebrations culminated a multi-step process, which included teachers submitting proposals for their ideas followed by a committee going over each proposal to determine the winners.

Nearly $50,000 in funding was approved.

“We want to encourage teacher innovation in the classroom,” Superintendent Philip Anthony said. “If everyone is doing the same thing across the campus and across the district, it can become boring to students over time. This helps keep education fresh.”

Princeton ISD has been funding special projects to be used in classrooms for several years, and this marks the third year teachers were asked to submit formal proposals for this money.

Susan Lacey, Rachel Walker and Jennifer Coburn

Through the application process, teachers submitted proposals to explain how their project would benefit the students’ learning, as well as make an impact on the community.

The district funded 10 classroom initiatives.

“By awarding these projects at the end of the school year, it is strategic in that we have the summer to get everything in place so they can start the new school year with their innovation operational,” Mr. Anthony said.

There were a lot of excited teachers as administrators arrived at their homes to surprise them with the oversized checks.

“The projects this year will give the kids some unique opportunities,” Assistant Superintendent Donald McIntyre said. “And, this is a great way to end the school year.”

Candace Coffee

Where the funds will be used:

-Canup Pre-K lead teacher Susan Lacey requested 20 iPad minis, which will provide two for each classroom at the new early childhood center.

“iPads improve classroom learning not because they are iPads, but because it helps children be successful in their learning,” Ms. Lacey said. “Teachers who integrate iPads into their lessons tend to do more project-based learning, which has been found to improve student learning across grade levels.”

According to Ms. Lacey, teachers use iPads as a tool to become more innovative educators and this in turn leads to improved classroom learning.

“Even the hard-to-reach, reluctant, oppositional students become engaged when introduced to opportunities that the iPad can give them,” she said.

-Neal Stellpflug, math teacher at Southard, requested interactive white boards and iPads on behalf of the rest of the math department for teachers which will allow them to roam the classroom to teach, as well as encourage interaction with their students.

“Students can engage and develop their skills, knowledge and understandings in different ways through interactive material and meaningful activities which will engage students in active, constructive, intentional, authentic and cooperative ways,” Mr. Stellpflug said. “Incorporating video clips and real world examples will catch student’s attention and help them retain and apply information.”

Roger Garner

-Roger Garner’s proposal will help create a robotics program at Princeton High School.

“Educational robotics strengthen and support students’ skills by developing their knowledge through the creation, design, assembly and operation of robots,” said Mr. Garner, who is a technology teacher at the high school. “Children and young students find it fun and engaging because they feel free to interact directly with both electrical and mechanical processes and procedures.”

According to Mr. Garner, programming can be difficult and boring when learned through the “traditional” abstract method.

“By having to control a physical robot and seeing what goes wrong, students learn what robots can and can’t do with an immediate feedback experience and understanding of their code,” he said.

-Lowe 5th-grader teacher Rachel Walker will get an interactive projector.

“One of the greatest benefits is that interactive projectors can be used during any unit in any content area,” Ms. Walker said. “This will bring our class closer to the intangible than ever before.”

Paige McCartney

-Southard teacher Paige McCartney will receive an ESL enrichment program for use in her classroom.

“It is a differentiated approach to instruction to improve acceleration of literacy growth for our students,” Ms. McCartney said. “The program bridges gaps in content area knowledge, academic and inter-disciplinary vocabulary, reading skills and test practice.”

-Because Cedrik Seefeldt submitted a proposal, all Advanced Placement students at PHS will have materials to help review for the AP tests.

“The goal is to increase test scores and provide the students with materials that they are permitted to take home and study with,” Mr. Seefeldt said. “As we currently stand, the AP teachers are left on their own to create or find materials to supplement their classrooms as far as review is concerned.”

Neal Stellpflug

-All elementary schools will benefit from Candace Coffee’s proposal to implement an after-school robotics club for gifted and talented students who would compete in a league to solve real-world problems.

-Jennifer Coburn’s proposal will equip 4th-grade math teachers at Harper Elementary with iPads.

“Students will be able to interactively engage with material,” Mrs. Coburn said. “This helps students retain and apply information all while creating an engaging, fun and interactive experience.”

-Brittany Knight wrote a proposal for metronome/tuners for use by Clark band students.

“Playing an instrument in tune requires a student to take the fundamentals they have learned previously and apply the next level in the thinking/performing process,” Ms. Knight said. “Not only will this develop the player from their own individual playing standpoint, it will allow the ensemble to play more challenging literature to a higher degree of accuracy.”

Philip Anthony, Perry Montgomery and Donald McIntyre

-Math teacher Perry Montgomery secured funding for Clark math teachers to receive iPads for use in their classrooms.

“Math is just one of those subjects at Princeton ISD that will benefit from using more technology,” Mr. Montgomery said. “It will lay the foundation of technology proficiency for the upper-grade level math classes.”

Philip Anthony and Cedrik Seefeldt