Schools foundation awards grants big and small

March 22, 2011

By Laura Geggel

It’s grant season for the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

Skyline High School teacher Courtney Bede holds a copy of ‘Classical Mythology,’ a book she plans to purchase for her students after receiving an Issaquah Schools Foundation grant. By Laura Geggel

This past February, dozens of teachers across the Issaquah School District applied for grants big and small — either for a classroom enrichment grant, worth up to $1,000, or a Kateri Brow big idea grant, valued at $10,000.

Ten teachers from seven schools won a 2011 classroom enrichment grant March 11, including Clark Elementary School Principal May Pelto, who wrote a grant request titled “Preparing all kindergarten students for academic success.”

With her grant, Pelto and Clark staff members will help teach incoming kindergarten students about letters, numbers, shapes and colors.

“Our students who did not know letters or numbers will receive a letter and sounds book, as well as number and adding puzzles, hopefully helping these students be more ready for kindergarten,” Pelto wrote in an email.

The grant will also pay for teachers to spend time in August placing students and planning instruction based on the students’ levels.

Pelto said she was grateful when she learned she received the grant.

“There is so much value to providing students with summer reading books,” she wrote. “The information we anticipate receiving about where students are entering kindergarten will be a gift.”

Foundation Executive Director Robin Callahan said the grants were twofold.

First, they provide money for teachers to pursue innovative projects, and second, they “support teachers in the work they do on the frontline with students,” Callahan said.

A group of community volunteers judge the classroom enrichment grants, grading each blind with a rubric. Some of the assessments include: How compelling is the project? How many students does it benefit? Does it support school curriculum? How will teachers evaluate student learning?

Skyline High School teacher Courtney Bede received a classroom enrichment grant paying for a classroom set of the book, “Classical Mythology.”

“I developed the classics course at Skyline in 2005, and I have never had a text funded for it,” she wrote in an email. “It has been a hodgepodge of different sources over the years.”

Once she has the books, she will no longer have to make photocopies from different sources.

“It is a college level text, and it will really expose the students to the type of critical reading sources they will be using in their higher education,” she wrote.

In addition to the classroom enrichment grants, the foundation awarded Kateri Brow big idea grants. A total of 54 teachers applied for the grants in February, and foundation volunteers narrowed down the applicants to 16 entries.

Each teacher made a 15-minute pitch for his or her grant March 21, and about one dozen received the sought-after funds.

As always, the foundation received more requests than it could fund, but was able to provide a total of $75,000 to teachers through the classroom enrichment grants and the Kateri Brow big idea grants.

Callahan urged the community to help pay for both types of grants through donations to the foundation. During the foundation’s October Calling for Kids campaign, some student callers had a difficult time connecting with callers since some people thought they were political campaigners promoting candidates for the Nov. 2 election.

The foundation still raised $225,000, but it was short of its goal of $300,000.

How to help

The community can continue to make tax-deductible donations at the foundation’s Nourish Every Mind luncheon April 28 at the Issaquah Community Center, 201 Rainier Blvd. S.

R.S.V.P. at

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241 or Comment at

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