As a group of about 15 people wandered through the hallways of Thompson Elementary School on Wednesday morning, Sarah Platt had no idea the celebratory sounds and hand-claps were meant for her.
Soon after, the special education teacher was surprised with a $5,000 check from the Spring ISD Education Foundation towards her goal to build a sensory-friendly classroom for students on the spectrum at Thompson Elementary.
“This grant is to provide a safe place for our students to play,” Principal De’Monica Amerson said. “Our special education teachers at Thompson Elementary just have a heart for our babies here, and we could not be more excited. This will go a long way towards helping our kids.”
The surprise was just one of several on Wednesday, as members of the Spring ISD Education Foundation’s board, as well as representatives from the district like Superintendent Lupita Hinojosa, rode the “Grant Express” from school to school to surprise teachers and staff members with news of their grants.
In all, six projects were selected for grants, which ranged from $1,869 to $5,000.
“Our teachers in Spring ISD work every single day to create innovative and equitable learning environments for our students,” Dr. Hinojosa said. “Many of these teachers go above and beyond, and seek funding from the Education Foundation to help them achieve their dreams. It is so wonderful to see the extra mile teachers like these will go for their students, and it is exciting to see how these funds will be used to help students succeed and flourish across the district.”
The teachers at Thompson — Platt, Ebony Johnson, and Carlicia Alexander — received $5,000 for a “Sensational Sensory Room.” This will provide a safe and comfortable space for students at Thompson to learn to regulate emotions and behaviors, by using interaction with various forms of visual, tactile, and auditory devices that will help stimulate and calm their senses when they are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.
Teachers from four of the district high schools received $4,800 towards creating a training program for teachers to learn and use drones. Cristal Johnson of Wunsche High School, Holly Smith of Spring High School, and Yolonda Washington were behind this effort, which will create a camp to “train the teacher” in drone work, a global marketplace skill. This will give students across the district access to qualified instructors, allowing them the opportunity to become Certified Drone Operators.
At Roberson Middle School, teachers Michelle Neyrey, Jim Alexander, and Cecilia Brumsley received $3,515 for their Across the World with Treasure Trunks and Suitcases proposal. The program will allow students to learn with costumes, re-enactments and other products to help them discover cultures from across the world in a visually stimulating and interactive manner.
Another project from Roberson received $1,869 for teachers Neyrey and Alexander, as well. This project will provide the novel “Refugee” for all sixth grade students, and will allow them to learn about three children escaping their homelands at different points in history. It will help students build on empathy and social-emotional learning, in TEKS subjects like Literature, Social Studies, and History.
At Spring High School, teachers Minita May and Cristina Jefferson received $2,000 (sponsored by Whataburger) to develop an internship program in the culinary arts field. The proposal includes providing students with proper uniforms, knife kits, thermometers and other tools. Professional chefs and restaurant owners or managers will come and speak monthly at the school as well, creating unique networking opportunities for the students.
Finally, the Family and Community Engagement department received $4,800, applied for by Tranita Carroll and Lorena Zertuche, for the Spring ISD Youth Summit. This event will inform and challenge a thousand high school students to become better leaders, higher achievers, and change agents within their schools and community. The summit will use guest speakers and workshops to focus on building healthy relationships, mental health, goal-setting plans, financial planning, college and career readiness, and health and wellness.
For more information on the Spring ISD Education Foundation, visit SpringISDFoundation.org.