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News & Announcements: Foundation’s 2018-19 Innovation Awards Announced

Three rows of educators on stage in school multipurpose room

December 5, 2018

Innovation is boundless in Escondido Union School District, judging by the 19 grants worth nearly $32,000 presented Monday night at the Escondido Education Foundation’s annual Dr. Mike Caston Innovation Awards.

“All over the district, wonderful things are happening,” foundation President Carolyn Royer said, kicking off the event at Reidy Creek Elementary.

This year, the foundation received 50 grant applications, and funded 19 projects. Projects for which teachers received grants cover numerous topics, including robotics, environmental science, performing arts, reading, maker spaces, and more.

“We are grateful to the foundation for their continued support of learning, and for these projects that spark a love of learning,” said EUSD Superintendent Dr. Luis Ibarra.

Several grant awards were sponsored by generous Escondido Education Foundation partners, including San Diego Gas & Electric, Current Wisdom Foundation, Route 78 Rotary, Jack Raymond in honor of Peggy Raymond, and Carilyn Gilbert Reading.

“The Escondido Education Foundation truly believes in community,” EUSD Deputy Superintendent Leila Sackfield said. “When all of these people come together, we are able to do a lot. From EUSD, thank you, Escondido Education Foundation for being the seamstress that knits together the fabric of our community.”

The foundation was established in 2004, and has been awarding grants to EUSD teachers since 2005. The Innovation Awards are competitive grants for individual educators, grade-level teams, or schoolwide projects. A foundation committee reviews and scores the projects without knowing the identity of the schools or teachers. Over the years, the foundation has awarded more than $700,000 to EUSD teachers. Royer said that 99 percent of foundation funds go into teacher classrooms.

The all-volunteer, community-driven fundraising organization supports the district’s 17 elementary schools, five middle schools, and one intermediate school. “It provides funding for additional programs that inspire learning, enrich teaching, and promote innovation and academic excellence,” said Miller Elementary Principal Kathy Morris, who also serves on the foundation board.

Monday’s lively presentation of awards was led by Morris and Reidy Creek Elementary Principal Kelly Mussatti, also a foundation board member. They welcomed up teachers to share details about their projects some high-tech, some no-tech, and all engaging. “There’s lots of potential being actualized through these grants,” Morris said.

Quantum Academy teachers Zoe Carpenter and Vanessa Miramontes-Solorzano received a $2,500 foundation grant, sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric, for their “STREAM in the SUN” project, which will allow 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-graders to compete in Junior Solar Sprint, a solar-powered model car competition.

At Rincon Middle School, Patty Anderson and Dena Moore will use their $913 grant, sponsored by the Current Wisdom foundation, for “Performing Arts Revival.” The grant will provide for the purchase of new microphones that will help students project their voices when they are bringing history alive with plays.

Linda Manessis, Jacquie Mushet, and Lisa Shibata, Miller Elementary’s 1st-grade team, received a $2,493 grant in honor of the late EUSD trustee Carilyn Gilbert for their “Leveled Libraries” project to create classroom lending libraries. “Books are probably the most important thing that will ever be in your child’s hands,” Manessis said. “It’s really exciting when children are empowered to pick out the books they can read at their own level. I would love to see a lending library in every single classroom.”

Melody Crook’s already-active “Hydroponic Indoor Garden” at Lincoln Elementary will grow in many ways thanks to a $2,336 foundation grant. Crook took an empty classroom and turned it into a hydroponic garden where 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-graders participate in multi-week lessons. Everything the students harvest is used in the school cafeteria. It is believed to be the first indoor hydroponic classroom garden in Southern California.

“First I borrowed and bought my own supplies, and the garden evolved and grew bigger than I ever imagined,” Crook said. “This project was a dream for me, and you made it a reality for my students.”

Visit the Escondido Education Foundation website to learn more or get involved.


Dr. Mike Caston Innovation Awards 2018-2019

Following are this year’s grant recipients, with project name, school, teachers, and subject focus.

Schoolwide Projects

  • “Makerspace Clubs Carts and Family Nights,” Miller Elementary, Tanya Hunsinger, and Gladys Zavala; Next Generation Science Standards
  • “What’s Your Story?,” Mission Middle, Elizabeth Rodriguez; technology and English

Team Projects

  • “Bernardo Robotics,” Bernardo Elementary, Greg Cook and David Boyce; STEM
  • “Hydroponic Indoor Garden,” Lincoln Elementary, Melody Crook; science, math, language arts, and technology
  • “Leveled Libraries,” Miller Elementary, Linda Manessis, Jacquie Mushet, and Lisa Shibata; language arts
  • “Mind Magnifying Microphones,” Oak Hill Elementary, Guy James, Hannah Booker, and Karol Roberts; math and language arts
  • “Mural & PBIS Pride Initiative,” Glen View Elementary, Veronica Jeannette Gonzalez; art and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
  • “Performing Arts Revival,” Rincon Middle, Patty Anderson and Dena Moore; language arts, social studies, and Power Literacy
  • “Sandbox of Unlimited Learning Potential,” Bear Valley Middle, Richard Downer, Cynthia Sabbs-Hall, Mayra Davalos, and Noah Barringer; social studies and science
  • “STREAM in the SUN,” Quantum Academy, Zoe Carpenter and Vanessa Miramontes-Solorzano; science, technology, research, math, and art
  • “STEAM Robotics Challenges,” Quantum Academy, Kim Buhler; science, technology, programming

Classroom Projects

  • “Building Future Programmers With Coding,” Reidy Creek Elementary, Daina Putnam; computer science and technology
  • “Can You Hear Me Now?,” Rincon Middle, Larissa Parrott; technology
  • “Classroom Community and Comfort,” Rincon Middle, Mallory Resendiz; math
  • “Edison Robots,” Bear Valley Middle, Casey Vogel; STEM, robotics
  • “Every Voice Matters,” Hidden Valley Middle, Jennifer Moon; science, social studies
  • “Flexible Seating Classrooms,” Hidden Valley Middle, Tracy Middleton; social studies
  • “Kindergarten Gardeners,” Central Elementary, Laura Reyes; science, literature, and math
  • “Mindfulness in the Classroom,” Lincoln Elementary, Sandra Gonzalez; social and emotional learning