WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — No one can make a difference in a child’s life like their teacher can, which is why the WFISD Foundation took steps on Friday morning, November 18, 2022, to make sure educators are able to go above and beyond.

The WFISD Foundation’s IDEA Grants are awarded to teachers at schools within the Wichita Falls Independent School District for classroom projects that are deemed to be Innovative, Developmental, and Educational Activities.

January Cadotte, Community Partnership Coordinator with the Wichita Falls Independent School District, was one of many members of the WFISD Foundation who visited district elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools to deliver IDEA Grants.

“We are awarding 19 different IDEA Grants to 29 teachers for a grand total of $18,100,” Cadotte said.

The WFISD Foundation began awarding IDEA Grants in 1991 to provide teachers the means to try new things. To date, over $330,000 has been awarded to local teachers, funding unique ideas all across Wichita Falls.

“Just how innovative and creative they are,” Cadotte said. “The different things these teachers come up with take their curriculum and learning experience in the classroom to the next level.”

The projects funded by the WFISD Foundation may change yearly, but one thing that never changes… The joy from teachers when they find out they’ve been awarded an IDEA Grant.

Rebekka Berry and Amanda Latham work with McNiel’s special needs students. Additionally, Berry works with visually impaired students across the district.

“Ecstatic,” Berry exclaimed.

“We’re very excited,” Latham said.

“I’m super excited for the kids,” Berry said. “It’s really going to benefit them.”

“Great opportunity,” Latham said.

Their IDEA Grant is all about helping their middle school students after they graduate from high school, equipping them to become productive members of the workforce.

“So we specifically chose jobs that are in their skillset that we can help them practice,” Berry said. “These kinds of skills that they can use and then apply after high school for actual jobs that they can acquire and be productive citizens.”

Their hope is to show their students that just because they aren’t neurotypical doesn’t mean they can’t be successful in the future.

“Our students are going to be an excellent part of the workforce one day,” Latham said, and Berry agreed.

McNiel Junior High’s special education department is working to prepare their students for the rest of their lives with their IDEA Grant, which is also how the Pre-K teachers at Cunningham Elementary are planning to use their IDEA Grant.

Amanda Beck, Jessica Jacobs, and Tara Arias all teach students from ages 3 to 5 with special needs at Cunningham, and they applied for an IDEA Grant that would fund supplies to teach their students how to fine-tune their motor skills.

“So we wanted to provide our students with fine motor tools,” Beck said. “We’re gonna purchase equipment that they can use for writing, building that fine motor, strengthening it.”

Beck, Jacobs, and Arias said thanks to the IDEA Grant, their students will be able to develop a foundation they can build upon for years to come.

“It’s really exciting because a lot of these kids have problems with fine motor,” Arias said. “Things that they need help with to be able to do just normal, functional things in their daily lives, so doing this will really help them for the rest of their lives.”

In the end, IDEA Grants are all about empowering local educators as they work to shape the future.

“Just to see the kids being able to do something new and exciting that they may have not normally been able to do makes the whole thing worth it,” Cadotte said.

Please find the full list of 2022 IDEA Grant recipients below:

Chantel Brooks, Bethany Horschler, and Mikki Zellner

  • Booker T. Washington Elementary; Head Start 3s and 4s/Pre-K
  • “Phonics Fun, Fitness, Friends and Family!”

Addison Wolf

  • Booker T. Washington Elementary; 5th Grade
  • “Calculating Success”

Kelly Rico and Tonia Boyett

  • Burgess Elementary; Pre-K
  • “Encouraging Family Involvement”

Amy Countiss

  • Burgess Elementary, Early Childhood/Pre-K
  • “Family Engagement from A to Z”

Shelly Hutchins

  • Burgess Elementary; 1st Grade
  • “Making Math Come Alive Through Literature and Manipulatives”

Nanette Philip

  • Career Education Center; Advanced Architecture & Interior Design
  • “Tools for Model Building”

Rachel Washington

  • Crockett Elementary; Kindergarten & 1st Grade Art
  • “Imagination Stations”

Jessica Jacobs, Amanda Beck, and Tara Arias

  • Cunningham Elementary; ECSE
  • “Busy Hands With A Purpose”

Brandy Honeycutt

  • Cunningham Elementary; Pre-K Special Needs
  • “Learning Life’s Lessons Through Games”

Michelle Keller

  • Cunningham Elementary, 2nd-5th Grade
  • “Techie Supplies for the Jr. Robotics, Coding & STEAM Club”

Chance Trevino and Kayci Bell

  • Fain Elementary; 4th & 5th Grade
  • “Boys 2 Men Academy Uniform”

Abi Parker, Cody Kenner, and Shelly Proctor

  • Franklin Elementary, Kindergarten-5th Grade Essentials
  • “Full STEAM Ahead Essentials!”

Lacey Davis

  • Haynes Elementary; All Grades
  • “Yeah for Yoto!”

Cynthia Smith, Adam Jackson, James Mathison, and Lawrence Johnson

  • Hirschi High School, 9th-12th Grade
  • “Guys Read”

Melissa Cox

  • Kirby Middle School; 6th-8th Grade Special Education
  • “Cooking for Life”

Laura Keen

  • Kirby Middle School; Counselor
  • “Kirby Positive Behavior and Motivation Initiative”

Amanda Latham and Rebekka Berry

  • McNiel Middle School; 6th-8th Grade Life Skills
  • “Help! I C.A.N. (Complex Access Needs) Work”

Wendy Presson

  • Wichita Falls High School; 9th, 11th & 12th Grade
  • “Lego World Map”

Jason Young

  • Wichita Falls High School; 10th-12th Grade Chemistry
  • “Data Collection and Collaboration”