Education Foundation awards 16 teacher grants to support learning

District 58 thanks the Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 for funding 16 teacher grants totaling more than $14,000 that support innovative learning and instruction, as aligned to District 58’s curriculum and strategic goals. 

“The Education Foundation is proud to help make our teachers’ ideas a reality with our Teacher Grant Program,” said Karoline Kellam, the Foundation’s grant coordinator. “We were impressed with the thought and time our teachers and staff put into their grant applications, and we look forward to learning about the end results!”

The Foundation annually awards grants to teachers and staff who have a good idea with a solid plan, but lack funding to implement it. Teachers submit their grant applications in September, and the Foundation’s Grants Committee completes a thorough and blind review of all grant proposals. The Foundation selects projects that show strong potential to impact instruction using innovative tools and/or techniques. Project proposals must align with the District’s curriculum goals and have measurable outcomes, among other requirements. 

Proceeds from the Education Foundation’s fundraisers—which include Oktoberfest, the Harlem Wizards game and the Green Apple program—cover the cost of the grants.

Congratulations to this year’s grant recipients!

2019-20 Education Foundation Grant Recipients:

I. English-language arts grants:

The Foundation awarded grants for classroom libraries, traveling libraries and large print books.

  • Nicole Ferroli and Kate Nickell, O’Neill English-language arts teachers, received a grant that will fund classroom library books that portray diversity.
  • Deb Roach, O’Neill resource teacher, earned a grant to support classroom library books that cater to a variety of student reading levels, so students of all levels can enjoy a book.
  • Cindy Rodriguez, Karina De Leon, Christina Diaz and Maria Contreras-Blanco, Kingsley biliteracy teachers, will use their grant to purchase high-quality English and Spanish books that children can bring home and share with their families.
  • Christina Forzley, Indian Trail teacher librarian, earned a grant to help build a library of large print books, which research shows can improve reading speed and understanding of text.

II. Math grants

  • Christina Gamboa, Melissa Eckdahl and Tracy Rasmussen, Kingsley resource teachers, received a grant to provide students with a variety of fun math games as part of their daily instruction. It will encourage students to develop their problem-solving and math skills, while fostering teamwork.
  • Katie Hurckes, El Sierra and Kingsley interventionist; her grant will fund Family Math Nights at El Sierra and Kingsley. During these events, students and their families can enjoy fun math activities together, increasing parent and student engagement.

III. Flexible learning grants:

The Foundation awarded five grants that will provide students with flexible seating options in their classrooms.

  • Michelle Sanders, Pierce Downer fourth grade teacher
  • Genevieve Hahn, Herrick reading specialist
  • Colleen Condon, Kingsley third grade teacher
  • Kate Blackburn and Mindy Werner, Kingsley speech-language pathologists
  • Katie Gallagher, Kingsley second grade teacher

“I have implemented a small amount of flexible seating options in my classroom so far, and the results have been fantastic,” Ms. Gallagher said. “My students love getting to choose how they learn, and are more focused when they have a choice. I would like to transition from a classroom with a few flexible seating options to a classroom with an option for everyone.”

  IV. Other grants:

  • Mary Loversky, El Sierra teacher librarian, will use her grant to fund PebbleGo Next, a research database designed for students in grades 3-6. Students can use the database for research related to States & American Indian History, Biographies, Social Studies and Science.
  • Irene Jackson, Lester teacher librarian, will purchase Beebots with her grant. Beebots are robots that introduce students to computational thinking and help them develop an understanding of sequencing and the mathematical concepts of coordinates, distance and location.
  • Deanna Jacobs, Kingsley sixth grade teacher, earned a grant that will give students the option to spend the first 10 minutes of their school day engaged in a fun and creative activity. Students can choose among seven activities. She hopes this grant will relieve any start-of-the-day anxiety students may face.
  • Christina Gamboa, Kingsley resource teacher, and Michelle Schmidt, Kingsley occupational therapist, received a grant to create a school hallway sensory path. A sensory path helps students develop motor skills such as balance, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness.
  • Caitlin Choinski, Highland/Henry Puffer social worker, and Kyle Winter, Highland PE teacher, earned a grant for yoga blocks for Highland’s yoga club. Yoga provides a unique way to teach coping skills, enhance self-regulation skills, build self-esteem and more.

For more information about the Education Foundation, please visit