Comal Foundation awards almost $40,000 in classroom grants

Almost $40,000, hundreds of students, and about 50 teachers later:  The Comal Public School Foundation's 6th Prize Patrol

Forty-six teachers in the Comal Independent School District received almost 40,000 in classroom grant money Nov. 8 during the Comal Public School Foundation's 6th Prize Patrol.

"The teachers were so surprised and so thankful," says Klaus Weiswurm, Foundation vice president, who helped lead the group of Foundation volunteer directors and corporate sponsors on the day-long patrol.  To date, the Foundation, only in its third year, has already returned about $176,000 to the classroom.

The money was awarded to 11 groups of teachers on 10 different campuses in the district.  The process began when the teachers wrote grant proposals for innovative projects and programs to enhance learning.  A committee of grant reviewers rated each grant and teachers will implement the strategies this school year.

Eight of the grants are sponsored by major donors to the Foundation.

Those corporate- sponsored "innovative teaching grants" are indicated in the list below.

UnitedHealthcare Innovative Teaching Grant - "Achieving Exemplary Status through Multimedia Interactive Learning Systems" at Canyon Intermediate School, $5,000 (Dana MacRoberts, Vanessa Brown, Sue McInnis, Carmen

Fletcher, and Mishaleen Allen) Data-driven instruction through the Quizdom Interactive Learning System will allow students to respond on individual remote controls so teachers can determine if students are learning the material.

Bartlett Cocke General Contractors Innovative Teaching Grant - "Watch that Water, Please" at Canyon Middle School, $4,500 (Judy Lee, Ronald Rychel, Forde Andersen, Linda Dreibrodt, Sheri Luckemeyer, Dawn Mizell, Laurel Schumacher, and Richard Strachan)  Students will study the Guadalupe River Valley watershed by testing water quality and submitting results to Texas Watch at Texas State University at San Marcos.

Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Schulze & Aldridge Innovative Teaching Grant - "Targeting the Tools for Science Success" at Comal Elementary, $4,651.90 (Mary Kay Covington, Joni Coker, Moni Arnold, Jan Sitta, Angie Blaylock, and Karen Whiteman)  This school-wide collaboration will improve student achievement in science.  It will allow the school to update scientific tools, equipment, and materials.

Joeris General Contractors Innovative Teaching Grant  - "Entomology Garden" at Comal Leadership Institute, $2,548 (Russ Ansley and Jerry Kersey)  This real-world eco-laboratory, using science, technology and English will extend the school's community outreach efforts to individuals and civic groups offering long-lasting mentor relationships.  Students will visit Northwest Vista College, be paired with a college mentor, and spend a day learning digital imagery.

HEB Tournament of Champions Innovative Teaching Grant - "Hoffmann Hands-On! Interactive Outdoor Learning Center" at Hoffmann Lane

Elementary, $4,100 (Susan Curtis, Janalyn Moos, Melanie Stelter, and Carla Shipley)  This project will set up permanent improvements on campus for ongoing learning stations in science.

"Science through Technology" at Hoffmann Lane Elementary, $1,591.18 (Karen Lackey, Rosie McConaghy, and Robin Toepperwein)  First-graders will learn science through reading, writing, and technology with the help of Sunburst

Learn About Science software.  They will learn more about animals, plants, astronomy, the human body, the senses, weather, and much more.

"Mountain Valley Post Office" at Mt. Valley School, $754 (Margaret Hamilton)  The post office will provide students an opportunity to write letters to any student or staff member.  Parents will be able to send notes to their children on special days.  Students will manage the post office by applying for jobs, taking the postal exam, and interviewing for positions.

Guadalupe Valley Tele-communications Cooperative Innovative Teaching Grant - "Music Department Digital Piano Lab" at Smithson Valley High School,

$5,000 (Perry Dean, Paul Dixon, Jeff Lightsey, Gwen Gabriel, and Kristen Bowersox)  Ten to 15 digital piano units will enhance the music program.

Digital pianos are musical computers and can be connected to utilize technology in the classroom while incorporating history and geography, math, and basic math skills.

Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority Innovative Teaching Grant - "Synergistic Lab" at Smithson Valley Middle, $5,000 (John Pursch, Pat Rogers, and Robert Loop)  Students will learn about the development of rocketry and the U.S. space program.  They will construct and launch a model rocket as a means of applying the scientific concepts they learn.

"Beyond Baking Soda and Vinegar:  Making Science Real for Younger Students" at Specht Elementary School, $991.19 (Denise Nipper)  Science will be meaningful and memorable through exciting experiments.  Supplies will be bought through this grant.  The hands-on lessons will allow students to see, feel, and create real science.

PBK Architects Innovative Teaching Grant - "Bridging the Gap:  Traditional Fine Art Photography in a Digital Age" at Spring Branch Middle School, $4,987.31 (Thomas Rogers, Dr. Erik Nielsen, Wendall Lyons, Belinda Maddox, Cindy Hubbart, Sue Tuttle, Troy Mann, Faylynn McMahon)  Students will use an onsite lab to learn photographic techniques, create traditional photographs, establish a digital portfolio, display their work, and sell their art in the community.  A summer workshop on digital photographic arts is included.

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