Waco ISD Education Foundation SurPRIZE Patrol awards $125,373 in grant funding

Local News

WACO, Texas – The Waco ISD Education Foundation and its SurPRIZE Patrol virtually visited 11 Waco ISD campuses Thursday to surprise 31 teachers with the news their grant applications were approved for funding for the 2020-2021 school year.

This year, the foundation is awarding $125,373 back to the district – bringing the total funded to more than $1.8 million over the past decade and a half. The group normally makes surprise visits to teachers’ classrooms with balloons and festivities – but with schools closed, the announcements transitioned to a virtual announcement and celebration.

District teachers and staff had the opportunity to apply for funding through the foundation’s Innovative Grants program beginning this past fall. This program annually awards approximately $100,000 in grant funding in the four focus areas of early childhood development, enhanced programming for advanced students, extended education for staff, and emphasis on student performance. 

This year’s grant projects span a wide array of topics and areas from health sciences, coding and special effects makeup to gardening, performing and visual arts and engaged learning for special populations. 

Taylor Bledsoe, chairman of the Waco ISD Education Foundation Board of Directors and vice president of Sturdisteel, participated in the virtual surprise announcements, including one for a grant to Lake Air Montessori Magnet School named in Sturdisteel’s honor. 

Dr. Susan Kincannon, Waco ISD’s superintendent, also participated in the virtual announcements. As Named Grant Sponsors, a grant at Hillcrest Professional Development School was named in honor of Kincannon and her husband, Keith. 

In addition to district staff, foundation board members and committee members, the SurPRIZE Patrol also included representatives from some of the 17 local businesses and individuals that had a grant named in their honor based on their level of support of the organization and its 14th Annual H-E-B Celebrity Cookoff. Although the event scheduled for March 27 had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most sponsors maintained their committed financial support of the organization and its programs. 

Letters of intent and full applications are screened and scored by a committee comprised of members of the foundation’s board of directors and community volunteers. Applications are scored on various categories including rationale, goals, plan of operation, communication and long-term implications.

Below is a list of the 31 grants, including the grant writer’s name(s) and campus, title of the project, amount funded and named sponsor/honoree, if applicable.

Sherry Bagby

Mountainview Elementary

“Practice Makes Perfect: Books for All”    

$4,190

Named in honor of: Sally and Johnny Bledsoe

Sherry Bagby

Mountainview Elementary

“Teaching the Teacher”

$850

Jessica Bancale

Crestview Elementary

“You CAN Touch This”         

$3,708

Named in honor of: H&B Packing

Will Burney

Waco High     

“Lights! Camera! Student!” 

$2,720

Leslie Cannon

ATLAS Academy

“Computing Across the Curriculum”        

$3,000            

Alison Davis

Lake Air Montessori Magnet

“Play is the Work of the Child”

$5,276

Named in honor of: Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram

Alison Davis

Lake Air Montessori Magnet

“To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow”   

$2,079

Shawn Dewett

Waco High

“Summer Reading and Directed Student Choice” 

$1,600

Renee Ebeling

University High

“Out of the Classroom Into the Art”          

$3,300

Named in honor of: JRBT    

Amanda Flentge

Hillcrest Professional Development School

“Design Thinking & 3D Printing”    

$5,000

Named in honor of: Keith and Susan Kincannon

Tori Garcia and Cristina De La Pena

Cedar Ridge Elementary

“Sea It to Believe It!”           

$3,000

Hope Gereghty

Waco High

“3D Art Expansion”  

$8,500

Named in honor of: Cargill 

Carolyn Green and Nikitha Hartfield

West Avenue Elementary

“We’re Outta Here: The Outdoor School” 

$8,500

Named in honor of: H-E-B   

Carolyn Green and Nikitha Hartfield

West Avenue Elementary

“Eagles CSI: Collaborative Student Interaction”  

$5,700

Named in honor of: Italian Granite

Jefferson Gunn

University High

“Backyard Brains Discovers the Body’s Electricity”         

$8,500

Named in honor of: Ascension Providence 

Laurie Beth Harris and Lisa Hughes

Tennyson Middle

“Culture Shock to Cozy”      

$2,750

Lindsey Helton

Alta Vista Elementary

“World Changers Challenge”          

$5,250            

Named in honor of: Central National Bank

Peter Holmstrom

Alta Vista Elementary

“Give Me a Clue!”

$3,000

Kimberly Huffman and Kendall Wilson

Cedar Ridge Elementary

“Experimenting with Math!”

$1,321

Star Islas and Angela Low

Cedar Ridge Elementary

“Future Scientists: Go Into the Process”   

$3,800

Gwen James

Alta Vista Elementary

“Class Curriculum Supplies”

$2,500

Erin Lange

Cedar Ridge Elementary

“Oh, the Places We’ll Go” 

$5,000

Named in honor of: GoldStar Transit

Matthew McMahon

Crestview Elementary

“Motown, in Touch with Tomorrow”        

$8,500

Named in honor of: Lowe’s of Waco

Erica Muller and Jennifer Findley

Tennyson Middle

“Quiz Bowl Startup” 

$3,000            

Ruzica Norwood

Lake Air Montessori Magnet

“SFX Makeup: Making Hollywood Happen”         

$3,000

Megan Perez and Alison Davis

Lake Air Montessori Magnet

“We Are the World” 

$5,900            

Named in honor of: Waco Motorsports

Rosa Pryor and Irene Barrantes

Kendrick Elementary

“Learning with Imagination”          

$3,687            

Named in honor of: Stifel

Lauren Reasor, Myriam Roberson, Yolanda Anzures and Frencis Mendoza-Villeda

Cedar Ridge Elementary

“Light Years in Learning”

$3,600

Named in honor of: Concho Supply, Inc. (PDW)

Jo Spark

Alta Vista Elementary

“I Used to Think… Now I Think… – Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors”

$3,950

Named in honor of: Educators Credit Union

Nikki Stokes

Lake Air Montessori Magnet

“Clay-Mazing Creations”

$692

Bethany Wharton

Lake Air Montessori Magnet

“Our First Musical Debut! Starring You!”

$3,500

Named in honor of: Sturdisteel

Source: Waco Independent School District

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