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Bright Idea winners surprised with checks

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Several Harlandale ISD educators with bright ideas are now hundreds of dollars richer because of them and their students will benefit. On December 6, the Prize Patrol, made up of Interim Superintendent Rey Madrigal and several other administrators, visited five schools and Central Office to surprise the winners of the inaugural Bright Idea Mini-Grants program with an oversized check.

The mini-grants were created this school year to assist district employees with funds for new projects that positively impact student learning. A total of 19 applications were submitted and seven grants were awarded for a total amount of $5,387.93.

Most of the schools held small assemblies to make the big announcement of their grant winner. Some of the winners themselves actually cried out of joy and surprise.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to take advantage of,” explained Kimberly Chason, teacher at Gilbert Elementary and grant recipient.

The first set of mini-grants was presented to:

·         Melanie Leija of the Frank Tejeda Academy for her Fascinating Talented Actors Bring Real Opportunities Near Classrooms of Students ($742.00). This project aims to help students with reading deficiencies at the elementary school level through interactive, theatrical presentations of books while promoting research and presentation skills at the high school level.

·         Melanie Leija of McCollum High School for the Just Smile project ($990.00). It will help motivate students to play an active role in their community by using art to personalize a gift for a child battling cancer.

·         Sonia Garcia of Rayburn Elementary School for the Rayburn Panther Weather Network ($952.45). The RPWN will expose 3rd-5th grade students to the science of weather. Students will be tasked with observing, measuring, recording, and comparing day-to-day weather changes using high-tech equipment.

·         Herlinda Pantoja-Urbina of Collier Elementary School for an Attendance Counts program ($977.00). This project stresses importance of school attendance by awarding students a t-shirt at the end of each six-week period if they had perfect attendance.

·         Kimberly Chason of Gilbert Elementary School for the Early Literacy Read Aloud Project ($451.94) and Social Worker Jennifer Montes for the E-Team ($274.54). The reading project will engage 3-5 year olds in read aloud activities using popular children’s books, an animated story teller and character costumes. The E-Team is curriculum designed to help students who are struggling to find their self-worth, motivation and confidence.

·         Denise Tejeda and Elaine Cain of the Curriculum and Instruction Department for Engaging Young Scientific Minds ($1,000.00). The project will provide Pre-K teachers professional development and guidance so that they can expose their students to the scientific process, scientific vocabulary, and science inquiry.