Return to Headlines

District awards teacher grants for innovation

Princeton ISD once again rewarded innovative ideas by funding grants through teacher proposals.

This fall when 12 teachers return to their classrooms, they will find them equipped with cutting-edge technology to implement new teaching strategies and take their students’ learning to the next level.

Nearly $50,000 in funding was approved, which culminated a multi-step process that included teachers submitting proposals for their ideas followed by a committee going over each proposal to determine the winners.

“The purpose of the Princeton ISD teacher proposals is to allow teachers access to funds in order to take learning to the next level,” said James Lovelady, assistant superintendent for secondary education. “The vision is to increase academic rigor for student groups through innovative activities that increase collaboration and community involvement.”

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

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.

“Teachers put a lot of effort into researching new and innovative practices,” said Casey Gunnels, the executive director of elementary education. “We use their ideas to serve as a pilot program for our district. Our hope is to turn the classroom into a lab of innovation.”

Where the funds will be used:

-Princeton High School audio/video teacher Marcellus Hill requested his classroom broadcasting lab be transformed into a state-of-the-art content creating studio complete with the latest in industry standard equipment.

“Broadcast journalism is the eyes of the school,” said Mr. Hill. “They spread the word about what is happening within our classrooms and our community. We would love to be invited into the classrooms and programs within the district to show the amazing things that Princeton ISD’s students are able to create. Our social media posts and photos tell a piece of the story, but providing more equipment allows our students to reach more classrooms and campuses and brings those photos to life.”

-Jill Edwards, ELAR teacher at Clark, requested headphones with microphones for the students with limited English proficiency, which make up more than a fourth of the campus population.

“Language development will enable the students to participate in more real-world necessities and activities with greater language fluency,” Ms. Edwards said. “Confidence and ability will enable the students to become more independent and interact in English.”

-Cindy Smith’s proposal will help students at Lacy Elementary develop through social emotional learning programs.

“Social/emotional well-being is an essential part of child development,” Ms. Smith said. “For children to succeed in school, they need to be able to get along with others, have self-control, self-efficacy, grit and determination, have a toolkit of coping skills, learn the ability to wait, to think and to control their emotions. Now more than ever, students need explicit instruction for social skills.”

-Several teachers will receive some form of interactive smart board, including Harper 3rd-grader teacher Ann Peacher, Canup Pre-K teacher Lupe Rojas and Godwin kindergarten teacher Allison Gonzalez.

“Students will be able to interact with multiple engaging activities from simply showing and proving their work to the class on the smart board, to interactive games and activities,” Ms. Peacher said. “Use of the board will allow for more engaging instruction with application to a variety of learning styles.”

-Clark 6th-grade math teacher Jennifer Black plans to cover her walls with dry erase boards, a technique she learned through a book she read, “Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics.”

“Having enough dry erase board space allows every student to participate at the same time,” Ms. Black said. “I am able to see everyone’s work and monitor behavior while standing in the background until I am needed.  Unlike a traditional classroom, students are actively completing tasks before the lesson is taught.”

-Because Jessica Zamora submitted a proposal, Clark 8th-grade students will have a robotics program.

“Students are able to explore the different aspects of STEM labs in the classroom.” Ms. Zamora said. “Students learn to follow instructional manuals, program and debug software. Also, students learn how to use handheld tools to construct the robots. A local hardware store has donated tools to our program, allowing the ratio of tools to student be 1:3 instead of 1:10.”

-The entire campus at Clark will benefit from Oakie Walley’s proposal to implement a program to solve the problem of school supply waste.

“This project would show students how to be stewards of their environment by recycling their used supplies instead of throwing them into the trash,” Ms. Walley said. “These materials take up space in the landfill and can take hundreds of years to decompose. This fosters community involvement of the school. This program would assist teachers, as well, and help us lead our students to care for their environment and not take the Earth around us for granted.”

-Sarah Lafon’s proposal will equip kindergarten teachers at Mayfield Elementary with re-write boogie boards as a technological tool for handwriting and phonics instruction.

“Mayfield Elementary has adopted ‘Handwriting Without Tears’ for the kindergarten grade level,” Ms. Lafon said. “Re-write boogie boards are a great writing resource that can be utilized in a variety of ways.”

-Manuel Lopez and Marisa Loya wrote a proposal for technology tools for use by Harper bilingual students.

“Students will be directly impacting their community when their language, conversation, social and worldview skills are increased through immersion and use of the programs to prepare them for many future community connections,” they said.

-Godwin 3rd-grade ELAR teacher Mandy Pagano secured funding for “stations for success” in her classroom to develop learning centers that are meaningful, academically rigorous and independent to allow students to self-pace.

“Reading and writing are the bedrock of communication,” Ms. Pagano said. “Wherever life leads students post-high school, whether academics or directly into the workforce, reading and writing are a paramount skill.”