WakeEd Announces Teacher Innovation Grant Recipients

We are pleased to announce our 2017-2018 Teacher Innovation Grant recipients. This year, more than 140 educators will be involved in implementing these projects across the county, hoping to change the lives of more than 2,100 students.


iCommunicate Using iPads

Allison Kurtz | Adams Elementary School

Impact: 110 Students, 5 Educators

Adams Elementary students in second and fourth grade will use iPads to showcase their learning in a variety of formats through digital learning portfolios. Educators in all subject areas will use portfolios to increase classroom communication, while also giving their students the opportunity to receive feedback from authentic audiences, including teachers, parents, and peers. Through this grant, educators will harness the power of digital connectivity, allowing parents to see student progress in real-time and creating a 21st century classroom that supports students’ technological literacy.


STEMtastic Story Boxes

Sonia Clark | Ballentine Elementary School

Impact: 200 Students, 12 Educators

\"\"Students in third, fourth, and fifth grade at Ballentine Elementary school will have the opportunity to revisit familiar fairy tales with an exciting new twist, as educators brings stories to life through engineering challenges. “Story Boxes” will engage students in STEM learning by providing all of the items student teams need to complete their challenges. For example, students will work collaboratively to engineer an escape route for Goldilocks so she can escape the bears or build a biplane to get Little Red Riding Hood safely to Granny’s house.

Doubling the Impact

To double the impact of one Teacher Innovation Grant, so that even more Wake County students could use Story Boxes to engage in STEM learning, Sonia and the Ballentine Elementary PTA partnered with Laurel Park Elementary School. It was the support from PTA parents that made Sonia’s vision a reality. “During the first PTA meeting, parents and staff sorted the donated item into story sets. Looking at the material lists, many volunteered to donate more needed items.” Sonia told us.

In addition to the generosity of school parents, the Wake County community stepped in to help. “I filled two carts of supplies and was checking out of the Dollar Store when our STEM excitement spread to a very kind and patient couple behind me in line. When they learned of our project and the grant, they insisted on paying for a few of our items. I was touched to tears.”

“You never know who you will impact on a WakeEd Journey.”



Digital Portfolios with Green Screen Studio

Sara Roberson | Harris Creek Elementary School

Impact: 700 Students, 35 Educators

Harris Creek Elementary students in second through fifth grade will use a mobile green screen studio to create engaging, collaborative video presentations for their digital portfolios. This studio will empower tech-savvy students to find creative ways to visually enhance and demonstrate their learning. Educators are excited to use this new assessment tool, which gives students ownership of their learning experiences. The green screen studio can be checked out and used in any classroom throughout the year, as teachers in every subject area integrate video presentations into their classes.


Partnering for Possibilities

Laura Privette | Forest Pines Elementary School

Impact: 25 Students, 20 Educators

Partnering for Possibilities will pair Forest Pines Elementary students with an adult to build connections, improve academic performance, reduce office referrals, and develop important social skills. Educators and school staff will identify students who are struggling with behavior or social-emotional skills, as those often correlate with low academic performance. Students in the program will meet with their mentor one-on-one during weekly after school sessions to participate in activities that address goal-setting, active listening, study skills, and conflict resolution. This grant is part of the school-wide implementation of research-based programs like Steps to Respect and Second Step, which focus on students’ social-emotional wellbeing.


Communication: A New Dimension

Lisa Tomaszewski | Lead Mine Elementary School

Impact: 101 Students, 25 Educators

Lead Mine Elementary educators will develop a comprehensive program of universal core vocabulary instruction and supports so students with sensory or cognitive challenges can have meaningful instruction and interactions with peers and adults. Historically, symbolic communication has focused on concrete words that limit a child’s ability to participate in dynamic learning experiences. With the entire school community incorporating consistent core vocabulary familiar to students with complex communication needs, they will develop an inclusive learning environment for all students. This grant includes the purchase of a MakerBot 3D Printer, which will allow a multidisciplinary team of teachers, vision specialists, hearing specialists, audiologists, speech language pathologists, instructional assistants, and assistive technology specialists to provide consistent instruction to students and staff in the use of Project Core vocabulary symbols.

“This was a huge team effort from the EC team at Lead Mine.  I know my name is on the grant but it was truly a team effort, and I\’m excited to share this news with them.”



Math Outside the Box!

Elizabeth Propp | Lincoln Heights Elementary School

Impact: 50 Students. 3 Educators

Educators at Lincoln Heights Elementary will bring abstract math concepts to life with a fun, hands-on approach that engages special education students. Lego math kits will make math tangible and build students’ confidence in learning, using familiar Lego bricks and real-life understanding of math concepts. This grant was designed to help prepare students for a world that requires critical thinking skills, technological savviness, and collaborative capabilities that special education students often struggle to attain through traditional instruction.


Virtual Reality PBLs

Jennifer Zoller | Weatherstone Elementary

Impact: 800 Students, 40 Educators

Every student at Weatherstone Elementary will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on, experiential learning through Virtual Reality (VR.) Art and STEM educators at each grade level will work collaboratively to implement project based learning (PBL) units using VR. For example, second grade students will virtually visit other countries in 3D, rather than passively reading or watching a video. Students will also work together to create a drawing that showcases what they have learned, which will be transformed into a VR image for them to explore.


The Internet of Everything

Greg Eyman | Brentwood Elementary School

Impact: 160 Students, 1 Educator

Brentwood Elementary students will explore how the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is used to solve problems in communities around the world. Collaborative teams will become globally competitive creators as they imagine, plan, and adapt devices to create smart objects for the classroom. This project will give student engineers the basic tools they need to create a product that utilizes the Internet of Things for real-world solutions. For example, students could use Littlebit Kits to create a product that saves electricity by turning off the lights when no motion is detected in the room. They will present their creations to the whole school on Engineering Night.

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