ABILENE – The Abilene Education Foundation made its annual trek through the campuses of the Abilene Independent School District earlier this week as Christmas came early for teachers across the district.
AEF executive director Christine Curtis-Carr, her team and members of the AEF board of directors hit 21 campuses on Monday and Tuesday as part of the “Prize Parade” to hand out 106 grants totaling $75,750 to 122 different AISD secondary and elementary teachers, directly impacting learning in the classroom.
The pool of money is the largest ever given out by the AEF, and the 106 grants and 122 winners were also the most in the organization’s history. The AEF received 189 applications for funding, the highest number it has ever received.
Grants that were approved varied from pictures books for elementary schools, art supplies, an engineering tour of AT&T Stadium, rain ponchos and gear for an elementary school safety part, a hatching system for baby chickens, pocket microscopes, CPR mannequin, puppet theater, tuners for a middle school band department, science safety goggle cleaning system, flexibly seating and additional technology.
“Teachers spend hundreds of dollars of their own money to create hand-on experiences for their students,” Curtis-Carr said. “At AEF we are very proud of the innovative teaching being done in AISD and are proud to partner with our schools and teachers to provide additional classroom resources to enhance our educational system.”
Bonham first-grade teacher Amanda Martin was one of those who received a grant from the AEF, collecting $994.19 to fund her project entitled “Math Matters: How Math Manipulatives and Games Build the Brain.” The grant will enable Martin to buy math manipulatives, math literature, and math games/puzzles for her classroom to help her achieve her No. 1 goal for this year, which is to improve her math instruction.
“These manipulatives or math tools this will help my children stay engaged while we are learning math concepts such as basic addition and subtraction,” Martin said. “First graders learn best with manipulatives when still learning about numbers, counting, and adding or subtracting. The manipulatives will help my students gain a deeper understanding of the math concepts we are learning. The math literature will be used when teaching a new mathematical concept.”
Martin was one of six teachers at Bonham to be awarded a grant with those six grants totaling $5,977.26 and going to five different teachers (Lindsey Owen earned two grants totaling $1,988.99).
“I am thrilled to be receiving the STAR Grant,” Martin said. “It will help drive my math instruction to best meet the needs of the learners in my classroom. With this grant I can do so much more in my classroom than what I’ve done before. I appreciate all that AEF does for teachers, and the donors that provide the money to help teachers in AISD. They have not only made a difference in my life, but many teachers in our district.”
Funds for the 2019-2020 STAR Grants were provided by the following: AISD Employee Payroll Deduction Campaign, Anonymous, Greathouse Foundation, Dian Graves Owen Foundation, Dodge Jones Foundation, Beltway Church, Bob and Peggy Beckham Quasi-Endowed Fund, The Polnick Family, Mary Lloyd, Priceless-Literacy/Kaye Price-Hawkins, Several Retired Educators, Funds from AEF’s Fundraisers, and many other Individual Donors.