Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club awards education grants to 11 deserving Downers Grove teachers

Contributed by Melisa Macdonald, on behalf of the Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club

Last month, the Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club (DGJWC) Education Committee surprised 11 deserving District 58 and District 99 teachers with education grants. Nine teachers represent District 58, while the remaining two represent District 99.

In the past, the DGJWC offered their Teacher Grants in the spring and presented them during Teacher Appreciation Week. This year, however, they decided to shift the grant timeline for the funds to go toward having an immediate effect on the teachers and their current student population, rather than waiting until the new school year.

DGJWC Education Committee Co-Chair Valerie Hardy said, “On behalf of the entire Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club Organization, the DGJWC Education Committee is extremely grateful for the talented, generous and compassionate educators in the Downers Grove community and are excited to support a number of them through our December 2019 Teacher Grants. It is a privilege to be able to help these committed teachers, and other educational specialists, in their efforts to grow professionally and to provide a rich, engaging and appropriately differentiated learning experience for their students.”

Hardy continued, “This is our third annual DGJWC Teacher Grant Program, and we are providing grants totaling nearly $3,000 to 11 educators serving students across nine local schools. We are thrilled to have among these grant recipients, for the first time since the inception of the DGJWC Grant Program, educators from Downers Grove High School District 99 in addition to those from Downers Grove Grade School District 58.

The winning DGJWC applicants for the December 2019 Teacher Grants are listed below:

Claire Armbrust (Fairmount) – earned a grant to purchase more flexible seating for her classroom. She loves that students have options to sit where they will work best and plans to buy more ball chairs, lap desks, seat cushions, floor mats and wobble stools to benefit her students.

Kate Blackburn (Kingsley & Indian Trail) – earned a grant to attend a two-day speech-language conference which will help her improve therapy, assessment and lessons in her classroom.

Maureen Bresnahan (El Sierra) – earned a grant to purchase Color Me Fluent®, which is a fluency program that promotes the overlearning of correct and exaggerated speech patterns by focusing on breathing, phonation, articulation and resonation. It is designed to help a person who stutters implement “control” strategies for his/her speaking. The program also includes great resources such as parent handouts, tips for SLPs and data sheets/checklists.

Christina Forzley (Indian Trail) – earned a grant to purchase non-fiction text books to add to the library collection to supplement the new ELA curriculum. The books purchased are the Scholastic Books Series, Blastoff! Readers: Animals of the Grasslands; Animals of the Rainforest and Animals of the Desert.

Beth Kamano (Pierce Downer) – earned a grant to purchase a set of 10 sand trays and 12 pounds of colored “magic” sand to help facilitate a multi-sensory approach to letter formation and sight word encoding.

Jenny Patrick (Transition 99) – earned a grant to take a CTE Course to help with Vocational Education for T99 students.

Mindy Werner (Kingsley & Puffer) – earned a grant to purchase speech therapy materials already in Spanish (that do not need to be translated).

Margaret Winchell (Downers Grove South High School) – earned a grant to have guest speaker, Lori Sonnenberg, come speak to the freshman choir students. Lori will discuss vocal anatomy, health and technique to the eager choir students who have expressed wanting to learn more about these topics.

Ellen Reitsma, Jim Festle & Dustin Moore (O’Neill) – earned a grant to purchase heart monitors for PE classes and intramural activities.

The Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club will be issuing another call for District 58 and District 99 teacher grant applications in the fall and looks forward to supporting the visions and professional development interests of additional teachers within the districts.

About Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club: The Downers Grove Junior Woman’s Club is a non-partisan, non-denominational, volunteer women’s organization. Its members are dedicated to supporting and raising the awareness of charitable organizations, individuals in need and the community. Women interested in joining the DGJWC should plan to attend the New Member Social Meeting on Jan. 21 at Emmett’s in Downers Grove. If you would like to learn more about the DGJWC, please visit