2018 Excellence Fund Grants

In the spring of 2018, the ICCSD Foundation awarded $50,000 in school and classroom Excellence Fund Grants to 8 different projects to be implemented in the 2018-2019 school year.  Donations made to the ICCSD Foundation’s Excellence Fund, an unrestricted fund, made these awards possible.

An application process for the grants took place in March 2018, requiring teachers and staff to collaborate and put their ideas on paper.  A committee of Foundation board members and staff and ICCSD teachers and administrators evaluated all 34 applications that were received.  Grant awardees were notified when Superintendent Murley and Foundation staff showed up at their schools with a giant CHECK!

For the 2018-2019 school year, a total of $50,000 in Excellence Fund grants were awarded for the following projects:

SEJH CASL Program  $9,500

South East Junior High will utilize its grant funding to both continue and to expand the CASL Program (Cross-Curricular Approach to Student Driven Learning) at the 7th and 8th grade levels.   This cross-curricular project-based learning incorporates innovative instructional strategies, as well as community connections within student projects.  The students who participate in the program are grouped into teams for their Language Arts, Global Studies, and Science courses. The CASL Program incorporates the 5Cs (communication, critical thinking, connectedness, creation, and collaboration), fostering collaboration at both the student and teacher level.

Lemme Reader Profiles  $8,032

This Reader Profile grant allows Lemme staff to implement an innovative approach to increasing reading scores.  During the project, data on the reading motivations and interests of individual readers will be collected and used to create reader profiles.  The profile information will be used to make instructional decisions for students and to purchase books based on students’ interests.   The data collected will also be used to examine trends in motivation across classrooms, grades, and populations.  The grant will help with the purchase of the interest-based books.

Horn Animation Collaboration $9,500

This grant is being used to create an iPad lab that will travel between Library, PE, Art, and Music at Horn Elementary. The Specials Team at Horn will create both subject-specific and cross-curricular projects using the iPads.  The focus of each of projects is for students to create both independently and collaboratively and to experience how different subject areas compliment each other in real world applications.  One collaborative cross-curricular project planned is a stop-motion animation project, where fifth and sixth graders will analyze the components of motion using their bodies in PE.  They will then videotape themselves moving and use the videos as their inspiration for their animation project in Art.  In Music class, they will set the animation to music by creating a soundtrack to accompany their work and in the Library, will turn their project into a movie.  When completed students will create a publicity plan to advertise their movie, then share their projects with the student body.

Borlaug IGNITE  $7,000

The goal of the IGNITE (Imagination, Grit, Next generation, Intention, Tenacity, Energy) space created with this grant was to challenge 5th and 6th grade students to design, create, analyze, and develop models to solve real-world problems. As originally conceived by the 5th and 6th grade teachers at Borlaug, IGNITE would include LEGOs and robotics, computer programming, and a 3D printer, making the area into an engineering design space for students.

Alexander Sensory and De-escalation Tools  $1,000

Alexander staff will use their grant funding to purchase sensory items and de-escalation tool kits that will permanently be a part of their special education learning environment to address their more frequent need to access these tools.  The sensory items will be discrete and help better focus the students on academics, as opposed to distracting them from their learning.

WHS These Books are Lit  $4,000

This grant helped celebrate the creation of a new book club at West High School that features books with a diverse range of characters dealing with complex, modern day social issues.  The grant provided funding for Dear Martin author, Nic Stone, to visit West High and other ICCSD high schools to share her story, her enthusiasm for literature, and the powerful message of her stunning book.

Secondary DBT Training  $9,500

Grant funds will enable a team of professionals at each high school to be trained in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) curriculum designed specifically for use in schools.  DBT, a cognitive behavioral based treatment, promotes mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.  At each high school, a Special Education Teacher and a Student Family Advocate will be trained together and then work to joint facilitate DBT groups in their school buildings.  The training and ongoing coaching will be provided by DBT clinicians from the University of Iowa.

4K Staff – Using a Swivl for Practice Based Coaching  $4,500

With this grant, Swivl system technology will be purchased and used for the professional development of preschool staff.  The Swivl system will record live classroom interaction between the teacher and students, with a focus on 14 teaching practices that increase social-emotional competencies and decrease challenging behaviors.