The Waxahachie ISD Education Foundation recently handed out 10 grants to teachers to incorporate innovative ideas and projects, totaling just under $21,000.

On Dec. 5, grant recipients from district schools were surprised when delivered their oversized checks.

Jenny Bridges, director of public relations for WISD and executive director for the Education Foundation, said, “I’d say more often than not, there are tears involved. We have an amazing staff and are so dedicated to their kids and just want everything for them, so when we tell them that they will be able to do that for their students, they are unbelievably excited.”

Shackelford Elementary was awarded a $1,140 check to incorporate alternative seating that will allow students to sit more comfortably in class. The grant will go towards purchasing bouncy chairs, which would enable students to move even though they are still stationary at a desk. Karisa Glenn presented this idea.

Shackelford was also awarded a $2,513 grant for the “Next Generation Thinkers” program, which will be available throughout the curriculum for all fifth-grade classes. The fifth-grade team presented this program.

Wedgeworth Elementary received funds to incorporate a STEM program in the art class, called “Co-MaDe Station.” Bridges said the art teacher, Angela Green, is new to the school and is full of new ideas. Incorporating STEM proved to be innovated enough to receive a $1,424 grant.

Northside Elementary along with all of WISD libraries will have a new item to pick students’ brains, “Break-out EDU Boxes.” With these, students have to use different problem-solving techniques to figure out how to get inside the box. The teachers can manipulate the boxes for students to use different skills to work together.

Glenna Reisner presented this idea to the board for all of the district and was granted $1,625. Jennifer Burns accepted the grant of $1,500 for Northside.

Northside will have 10 boxes on campus, while more will be distributed throughout WISD libraries.

Clift Elementary received two grants, one going toward the Clift Academy where kids get to spend time once a month in a club that’s based on their interest. The grant money will go towards more supplies. Aprille Andrews and Ashley Mendoza were awarded the $1,239 check.

A grant of $4,464 was given to Clift to start their first robotics club. This will be the second elementary school to have a robotics club. Jerald Zimmerman presented the idea to the board.

Bridges said, “Clift is one of our title campuses, meaning they have a high proportion of economically disadvantaged kids. So to be able to introduce them to the robotics concept and the STEM concepts is really amazing.”

Felty Elementary received a grant of $2,877 to purchase a sensory swing to be installed in the special education room.

“Sometimes there are kids who get really worked up, swinging really seems to help to sooth them and calm them down to where they are able to go back to their work and learn,” Bridges said.

The swing is also designed to be able to hold an adult who is holding a child. Lisa Judd and Lora Lockamy presented this idea.

Finley Jr. High School received two grants, one worth $1,379 to go toward more equipment for the “Rockin’ Rokenbok Robotics Club.” Mary Volbrecht was presented the check for her presentation to the board.

The other grant of $2,658 was presented to Scott Cieri and Ashley Huber for the “Hands-On History” program. Bridges said the committee was “really blown away” by this program.

Each year, the Education Foundation gives approximately $60,000 to the district through the innovative project teaching grants and to dual credit at the high school level. Fundraising events such as the Legacy Run in the fall and the Legacy Classic Golf Tournament in the spring help to supply the foundation with the needed money.

“The education foundation is the main reason why we raise funds to give grants to teachers for innovative classroom projects or campus-wide projects,” Bridges said.

Spring applications will open in January and are due in February. The grants will be awarded in March 2018.