WFISD Foundation surprises 17 teachers with IDEA Grants

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The WFISD foundation Friday awarded 17 teachers at various schools within the Wichita Falls Independent School District with IDEA Grants.

IDEA Grant recipients were surprised while teaching Friday, November 19, as they were unaware they were receiving the grant before WFISD Foundation officials showed up in their classrooms.

The IDEA Grant began in 1991, and over its 20-year history has awarded over $317,000 in grant funds to teachers all over the district.

WFISD Communications officer Ashley Thomas said over $11,000 was given out this year alone, and it’s all a means to help teachers push their classes to the next level.

“It’s just an extra way for the WFISD Foundation to give money back to our teachers and allow them to do things in their classroom that they may not be able to do without those extra funds,” Thomas said.

Award winners use the funds for items that impact their entire school across multiple areas and grade levels.

Brionne Perry, one of two Rider High School teachers to be named a recipient of the IDEA Grant, teaches forensics, and she said the grant money will be used to give those students industry-level experience.

“In the field of forensic science, there’s a lot of things like bullets and fingerprints and tool marks that they look at under what we call a comparison microscope, which basically lets you look at things side by side,” Perry said. “It’s what they use in the field as professionals. And so our students are going to get to look at those things with the same equipment that professionals use.”

Bryce Henderson, a biology and honors anatomy and physiology teacher at Rider, was the other IDEA Grant recipient.

Henderson echoed Perry’s sentiments, that using real equipment exposes students to the real fields they’re studying.

“Getting more of a chance to get actual hands-on experience and really see what it’s like to use the true equipment gives them just a little bit more of a taste of real science in the classroom,” Henderson said.

Henderson said his students will also be using the microscope, but for a completely different purpose.

“In anatomy, we do a lot of comparisons between different tissue types, whether it’s different types of muscle or bone,” Henderson said. “So we’ll be using the same type of equipment for a totally different purpose, with a different group of students.”

It’s all in an effort to bring their students up to the level of scientists already in the field, and Perry said it’s a way to give her students a taste of what real science is like.

“It’s one thing to watch CSI or something like that and see the equipment they use, and it’s another thing to actually use it yourself in class,” Perry said.

And at the end of the day, giving students an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have is what the WFISD Foundation’s IDEA Grant is all about.

Please find the full list of IDEA Grant recipients below:

  • Mikki Zellner — Booker T. Washington Elementary; Head Start, “Little Scientist”
  • Alissa Donaldson — Booker T. Washington Elementary; Art, “Clay Art for Our Community”
  • Jamie Newberry — Burgess Elementary; 1st Grade, “The Book Fairy Comes to 1st Grade”
  • Autumn Weber — Career Education Center; 9-12, “Cyanoacrylate Laboratory Fuming Chamber Kit”
  • Mary Coleman & Daniele Chavez — Fain Elementary; K-5, “STEM Engineering with Squish!”
  • Abi Parker, Cody Kenner & Shelly Proctor — Franklin Elementary; K-5 Music, PE & Art, “We’ve Got the Beat!”
  • Bethany Calloway — Haynes Northwest Academy; K-5 Music & Art, “Ukulele My Classroom”
  • Brandi Perkins — Hirschi High School; 9-12 Theatre, “Alterations: For Theatre and Life”
  • Cindy Smith & Diane Perry — Kirby Middle School; 6-8, “Los Estudiantes Quiero Libros en Espanol” 
  • Cindy Smith — Kirby Middle School; 6-8, “Transforming Boys into Super Readers!”
  • Donna Burch — Milam Elementary; PreK-5, “AWESOME Area 2.0”
  • Bryce Henderson & Brionne Perry — Rider High School; 10-12, “Scoping Out Forensic Science”

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