2008-04-17 / Front Page

In the money!

PAEF awards $48,000 to 25 PAISD educators
BY DAN PARKER SOUTH JETTY REPORTER

Celebration time STAFF PHOTO BY DAN PARKER Vanessa Brundrett, a board member with the Port Aransas Education Foundation, hugs kindergarten teacher Katy Brennan, right, after the PAEF awarded thousands of dollars in grants to Brennan and other teachers at H.G. Olsen Elementary School during a school assembly on Friday, April 11. In the background, celebrating students hold oversize checks aloft. Celebration time STAFF PHOTO BY DAN PARKER Vanessa Brundrett, a board member with the Port Aransas Education Foundation, hugs kindergarten teacher Katy Brennan, right, after the PAEF awarded thousands of dollars in grants to Brennan and other teachers at H.G. Olsen Elementary School during a school assembly on Friday, April 11. In the background, celebrating students hold oversize checks aloft. The Port Aransas Education Foundation (PAEF) wowed teachers and students alike on Friday, April 11, by awarding Port Aransas schools with 29 grants totaling more than $48,000.

The grants will pay for teacher training, computer equipment and software, educational field trips, library books and more. Purchases will range from musical instruments for elementary school students to an educational weather station to be installed atop Port Aransas High School.

"We remain committed to this school district," PAEF president Janice Roberts told a cheering crowd of students, teachers and administrators in an assembly at the H.G. Olsen Elementary School gym. "This is so much fun, giving back to you guys!"

Congratulations! STAFF PHOTO BY DAN PARKER Port Aransas Education Foundation officials Addie Belcher, right, and Jana Snow, center, present teacher Marilyn Cook with a grant award during an assembly at H.G. Olsen Elementary School on Friday, April 11. Congratulations! STAFF PHOTO BY DAN PARKER Port Aransas Education Foundation officials Addie Belcher, right, and Jana Snow, center, present teacher Marilyn Cook with a grant award during an assembly at H.G. Olsen Elementary School on Friday, April 11. PAEF is a non-profit group established in 2006 to raise money to award grants for programs and items not funded in school budgets.

The $48,428.82 in grants awarded Friday far eclipsed the approximately $21,000 worth awarded last year. The greater amount this year came after a particularly successful fundraising season.

PAEF invites teachers and other PAISD employees annually to submit applications for a new round of grants that are awarded in the spring. Foundation officials discuss each application and decide which ones to fund.

On Friday, the foundation hosted assemblies in the Brundrett Middle School and PAHS gyms, in addition to the gym at Olsen Elementary.

Foundation officials called teachers to the front of the gyms, announced their grant awards, hugged them and presented them with oversize checks.

Money in hand STAFF PHOTO BY DAN PARKER H.G. Olsen Elementary School students hold oversize checks aloft during a school assembly where the Port Aransas Education Foundation awarded thousands of dollars in grant money to teachers. Money in hand STAFF PHOTO BY DAN PARKER H.G. Olsen Elementary School students hold oversize checks aloft during a school assembly where the Port Aransas Education Foundation awarded thousands of dollars in grant money to teachers. The largest grant, for $6,000, went to Gary Mott, who teaches theater in addition to other classes at PAHS. The money will buy a new set, complete with walls, windows, doors and other structures, for the stage at the high school.

Mott said he was "overwhelmed" by the grant, which comes at a good time for the theater program. Performances in the school's one-act play were so strong in a zone contest last month that the play advanced to the district level of competition. It was the first time that had happened in recent years.

"I'm ecstatic for the students next year who will have the new (set) pieces, especially since we've got a real strong UIL (University Interscholastic League) team returning next year who want to go to the next level," Mott said.

Brundrett Middle School teachers and administrators were "extremely pleased" with their grant awards, said Bob Byrd, principal of BMS.

"I think we put in for five (grants), and they gave us five," Byrd said. "More books for the library, which is always good, some advanced technology for science classes … just a great day for Brundrett Middle School. They (foundation officials) are just wonderful people."

H.G. Olsen Elementary School Principal Sylvia Buttler said she was delighted by the grants.

"I would like to thank this foundation that is so dedicated to this district," Buttler said at the assembly at Olsen. "This is amazing! Let's give them a big, huge applause!"

As more than 200 children in the gym stood and cheered, their teachers waded into the audience and handed the kids the oversize checks presented moments earlier by foundation officials. Dozens of students eagerly crowded together to hoist the foammounted facsimiles high in the air and parade around the gym with them.

"That was so cool, and it was spontaneous," said Vanessa Brundrett, vice president of PAEF. "It was so fun to see the kids, their reaction. That was really moving to see that."

In addition to the theater grant awarded to Mott, following are the teachers who received grants, the grant amounts and what the grants will purchase:

H.G. OLSEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Katy Brennan, kindergarten, $1,685 for a 78-inch interactive whiteboard. Students can write and draw on a whiteboard with an electronic pen, and results immediately are entered in a computer's memory. The equipment delivers sound, color and movement to hold children's interest.

Carly Carlough, kindergarten, $1,685 for a 78-inch interactive whiteboard.

Rhonda Burger, fifth grade, $3,660.00 for six Elmo document cameras - teaching tools that create three-dimensional screen presentations that can be viewed by all the classroom.

Heather Collins, first grade, $1,685 for a 78-inch interactive whiteboard.

Devan Rasnick, first grade, $1,685 for a 78-inch interactive whiteboard.

Gay de Montel, music teacher, $2,500 for new musical instruments including xylophones and glockenspiels; and $1,300 for fifth-grade students to attend a dinner and live symphony orchestra concert in Corpus Christi.

Julie Findley, fifth grade, $534.74 for entry fees for the Great Texas Birding Classic contest for three teams of fifth- and sixth-grade students. The event encourages appreciation of nature.

Gina McKeever, fourth grade, $1,722 for two laptop computers and software that will allow students to learn presentation skills including the PowerPoint computer program.

Dana Scott, third grade, $1,001.55 for a field trip to Natural Bridge Caverns, at New Braunfels, to study cave geology and ecology.

BRUNDRETT MIDDLE SCHOOL

Patt Coeckelenbergh, librarian, $2,500 for library books. (The foundation also obtained the services of Lancaster Industries of Port Aransas to build bookcases for the new books.)

Brian Flack, seventh-grade history, $265 for a field trip to Goliad to study Texas history.

Christine Kreutziger and Betty Smith, sixth grade, field trip to King Ranch to study ranching techniques and Texas history.

Kristi Longanecker, world studies and U.S. history, $1,128, for map sets that include 19 historical maps.

Andrea Skloss, seventh- and eighth-grade science, $1,778 for electronic equipment similar to an overhead projector, but with more interactivity. Students at their desks can write with a wireless stylus on an electronic clipboard. What they write appears on an overhead screen.

PORT ARANSAS HIGH SCHOOL

Laurie Barello, $2,369 to buy lab equipment for studying electricity and magnetism. Equipment will replace outdated, homemade equipment.

Peter Barello, $239.12 for study guides and software for advanced placement classes in history, geography, U.S. government, macroeconomics and microeconomics; $497.79 for expanding an interactive audio-visual system; and $560.70 for Power Zone software - an interactive gaming system in which students form groups and answer questions.

Nona Hendricks, $725, for an Elmo documents camera that can be used with a projector for better visual demonstrations. Example: the equipment can project the image of a calculator on a wall, and students then can watch while a teacher makes keystrokes and the calculator's display screen changes.

Claudia Locher, $1,640, to buy two new sewing machines, thread, needles, material, scissors and other supplies for sewing class.

Bill Slingerland, $1,500 for aquariums for an aquatic science class and to provide an educational boat trip on the Katy, a boat at the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute.

Monica Sonnier, $2,026 for software to assist with teaching a multimedia course that includes video production, web paging, graphic design and graphics editing; and $216.96 for electronic equipment for photo editing in yearbook production.

Cheryl Park, $4,490 to buy a weather station that will record 27 different kinds of measurements. The purchase, which will include educational software, hardware and professional support, will mean installing the weather station on the roof of PAHS. Students from kindergarten through high school will get lessons on the weather observations. Real-time weather information from the station will be available through the school district's Web site.

Leif Johnson, district technology coordinator, $1,854 for two computer workstations for use of the Novanet distance-learning system. Among other things, Novanet helps students get back on track for graduation by recovering lost credits - a process that can reduce student dropout rates.

PAISD

(TO BE USED DISTRICT-WIDE)

Marilyn Cook, PAISD dyslexia specialist, $1,420 for books, audio lessons on CDs, software and other services and materials related to a year-long series of workshops involving 20 students of varying ages with learning "challenges," Cook said. The students will get instruction on different ways to learn and eventually will conduct one or more "mind fairs" in which they will put on displays and activities on different methods of learning. The fairs will be open to the public.

Cook also won a $1,500 grant for tuition to take a course that helps instructors teach students who struggle with learning.

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