Highline Schools Foundation awards over $110,000 in grants to Teachers & Staff


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The Highline Schools Foundation announced Tuesday (Dec. 12) that they awarded $110,550 in grants to teachers and staff in support of Highline Public Schools this December.

These funds will support activities and experiences that expand the learning process and actively engage students.

“We are all so grateful to the Highline Schools Foundation for supporting our teachers and staff with Excel grants,” said Dr. Susan Enfield, Highline Public Schools Superintendent. “These grants encourage innovation and sustain great practices that benefit our students.”

In addition to books, field trips, technology and supports for special needs students throughout the district, other projects funded this year through the Excel Grant program include bicycle repair and specialized maintenance tools at Big Picture for hands-on learning apprenticeship; Djembes (hand drums) at Cedarbrook Elementary, which will improve their rich and diverse music program; author Jim Whiting will inspire students at North Hill Elementary; a camcorder at Sylvester Middle School will allow grade 8 students to direct and produce the news; and a new range for the kitchen at Tyee High School will be used weekly by 2 ILC classes as well as other special education programs, clubs, sports teams and other classes throughout the year.

“Recently our range that is more than 40 years old broke,” said Linda Lambert, Tyee High School. “As a result, we had to significantly modify our cooking program and independent living skills training because we no longer had the range as a tool to teach cooking. After we went to small schools, the home-ec rooms were taken apart and the kitchen in the ILC program is the only kitchen on campus where students can learn cooking. This Excel Grant made an immediate difference! Just last week we had not only our 2 ILC classes cooking, but also the Tyee Band and the Pacific Islander Club used it for making items to sell in the holiday bazaar.”

The Foundation’s Excel Grant program was created to support classroom innovation throughout Highline Public Schools and to provide teachers resources they need to help students be successful. Some of the Excel Grants were given out via the Foundation’s “Prize Patrol”—surprise visits by Foundation Trustees to staff meetings, classrooms and assemblies during which the checks were presented to excited and deserving district staff.

The Foundation’s Impact Grant awards $10,000 to one school or program in the district for an opportunity that aligns with the Highline Public Schools strategic plan in a way that impacts a large number of students.

Congratulations to the 2017-2018 Impact Grant recipient “Equity and Computer Science for All” at North Hill Elementary! “This is the first year an Impact Grant is awarded to an elementary school and we were excited to be able to make such a significate impact on the entire student body.” said Anne Baunach, Highline Schools Foundation Executive Director.

“Equity and Computer Science for All” – May Ovalles at North Hill Elementary School (Pictured (left to right) Scott Logan, Chief Operations Officer; May Ovalles, Assistant Principal; Chau Le, Math; Lisa Juvinall, Science; Trishia Sewell, Literacy; Travis Exstrom, HSF President-Elect; Anne Baunach, Highline Schools Foundation Executive Director, and Kimberly Gilmore, Principal.

5th & 6th grade students at North Hill Elementary have participated in computer science exploration with Code.org’s Hour of Code the past few years. Thanks to funding through the Impact Grant, this year they will be able to go beyond the Hour of Code. This means that not only will students participate during Computer Science Week in December 2017, all our 6th graders will be immersed in a Computer Science Fundamentals unit and the 5th grade team will incorporate coding and computer science lessons into their math or science classes.

“Students are interested in doing more with computer programming. The strong computational thinking, problem-solving, group work and critical internet safety basics incorporated into these game-driven lessons and activities work to engage students while they learn coding and computer science fundamentals,” Assistant Principal May Ovalles wrote in the grant application.

A few this year’s Excel Grant recipients:

Des Moines Elementary (Pictured left to right) Kevin Garber, 3rd Grade Teacher, Crystal Krippaehne, Teacher, Lisa McMullen, 4th Grade Teacher, and Highline Schools Foundation Trustee Chad Harper.

Broadening our Knowledge of Native American Cultures and Traditions – Kevin Garber: Des Moines Elementary 3rd graders are developing their research reading and writing skills through the lens of the different and diverse cultures among the many First nations of North America with newly updated books provided by the Highline Schools Foundation.

4th Grade Waskowitz Outdoor Field Trip – Lisa McMullen: Every year the 4th grade students at Des Moines Elementary attend a field trip at Camp Waskowitz for one day. The curriculum in 4th grade focuses on Washington State History and this field trip provides students with an opportunity to learn more about our state’s history in an environment that is both interesting and engaging. Students will participate in activities that will enrich their understanding of topics learned in class during our Living History day at Camp Waskowitz.

Native American Literacy Project (Pictured left to right) Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield, Highline Public Schools, Amanda Rambayon, Native Education Literacy Liaison, Anne Baunach, Highline Schools Foundation Executive Director and Sara Ortiz, Native Student Success Program Manager. This project supports the Native American Programs at Highline Public Schools by purchasing books and bringing in local Native American presenters.

Native American Literacy Project – Amanda Rambayon: This project supports the Native American Programs at Highline Schools by purchasing books and bringing in local Native American presenters. We currently have a library comprised of Native authored/illustrated books that accurately portray Native people and nations. These funds will help buy new books to add to our library. Also, funds will be used to invite local Native American presenters to share their knowledge at different Highline Schools.

(Pictured left to right) Michelle Mahurin, Stephanie Nelson, Luke Stromberg, Stefanie Skiljan, Anne Baunach, Jerome Upshaw, and Lisa Carlson. Six grants were awarded this year at MRHS to support literacy & arts, career and college readiness, health & Sports and technology.

Continued Chromebook Connections – Michelle Mahurin: My students need Chromebooks in order to complete their assignments, their Advisory requirements, graduation requirements, apply for jobs and do other things that require technology and access to the internet.  Technology is a requirement in this day and age and it’s part of Highline’s Strategic Plan.  My studentss need to be able to learn how to use it responsibly and practically. 

Civic Action Game! – Stephanie Nelson: https://www.politicraft.org/ is an action civics card game that helps students participate  and learn. It is aligned to the C3 standards which are the standards for Social Studies and History.

Choral Clinic with a Professional – Luke Stromberg: Funds to hire Dr. Brad Pierson from the University of Toledo to come lead choral workshops and rehearsal at Mount Rainier High School. Having a choral professional in the choir rehearsal room is an irreplaceable experience that students will remember throughout the school year. This learning experience will give us tools and techniques to use for the rest of the school year and beyond.

Equitable Access to bathrooms at MRHS – Stefanie Skiljan: In order to create a safe, welcoming school for our LGBTQ+ students, students and staff at MRHS will make 4 staff restrooms gender inclusive. These restrooms will be used by staff and students with an access code. This project has been initiated and led by LGBTQ+ students who are advocating for their own sense of well-being. We hope this change can foster a sense of belonging for LGBTQ+ students and staff and make their presence at MRHS more visible.

Come Socialize at the Social Justice Social! – Jerome Upshaw: The Social Justice Social is a new program that cultivates a space for students to discuss and formulate opinions on the many social justice topics that impact them. Each month will focus on a different social justice topic, have different activities each week, and book to support the theme. We hope to have students come together to build their voices in the community. The program will help connect students with teachers who are sponsoring the book of the month. And students will build stronger relationships with their peers which will increase their engagement in school.

World Languages for a Larger Worldview – Lisa Carlson: Recent technologies and social media have made communication and literacy a prime requisite for interacting in the world around us.  Encouraging and supporting bi-lingual and bi-literate skills and education through our school library enhances student learning and promotes greater proficiency.  When students read books in a second or third language, they build vocabulary and grammar skills; they also learn structures in thinking that are unique to each culture.  In turn, this opens students’ minds to other ways of thinking or perceiving the world around them.

About the Highline Schools Foundation
The Highline Schools Foundation was established in 1999 with the purpose of providing community resources to help Highline Public Schools succeed. We believe that by helping to enrich the classroom and school experience, we can engage students to reach a higher level of learning, and the entire community will benefit. The Foundation is governed by a dedicated group of volunteer Trustees and is the only 501(c)(3) organization supporting all Highline Public Schools. For more information visit www.highlineschoolsfoundation.org

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