Teacher Classroom Project Grants

The Teacher Classroom Project Grant is a unique teacher/classroom program that awards funds of $500 to $1,500 to teachers for creative and innovative projects for classroom use that directly impacts the quality of education for students.

2015-16 Classroom Grant Awardees


Jennifer Manier, Elissa Levin, Colleen Riggen - Mar Vista Elementary School

"Engaging Readers Through High Interest Leveled Text: Reaching Common Core State Standards" (2nd & 3rd Grades)

This grant funds purchase of leveled text books for classroom libraries.

"My third grade reading intervention students feel successful, more aligned with their peers, and ready to take a leap into chapter books. Without the support of Schools Plus, we would not have been able to bring these exciting additions into our book room. Beginning readers, nonfiction, and chapter books were purchased in a series. As a result, students are driven to read more in order to get to the next book. Rebranding 3rd grade intervention as "book club" has students (looking) forward to coming to reading group, to participate in book discussion, and practice their reading fluency with their reading partner." - Jennifer Manier


Kathy Doll, Diane Weiller, and Chris Lasher-Zwerling - Del Mar Elementary School

"Developing 21st Century Skills with LEGOs" (4th Grade)

With this grant's funding of computerized LEGO sets, students will develop skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The students found the unit incredibly engaging. (It provided a unique opportunity for

students who otherwise had a hard time staying focused during class time to stay

on task, talk on topic, and even take a leadership role. It was a great achievement for

this student to articulate thoughts and communicate effectively. Students "demonstrate

their understanding of engineering concepts ... and began teaching other students."

Evan Siegesmund - H.A. Hyde School

"The Mural Project" (5th Grade)

This grant funds materials for a school mural which reflects school values, citizenship, and provides an opportunity to explore art.

"Students were excited to leave their mark on camps. Many students have younger siblings and cousins that attend Hyde. So when they graduate they still come back to school feel a connection. One student didn't have time to finish.. and was excited to come back at the beginning of the (next) year and finish. She was also excited to come back and talk to her old teachers and be part of Hyde again. She has a younger brother and younger cousins who have all told me that she painted it and they are proud of her." - Evan Siegesmund


Jane Wong, Jenny Palmer, and Alicia Nelli-Martinez - Mintie White Elementary School

"The Caring Garden at Mintie White Elementary School" (Kindergarten)

In collaboration with the H.A. Hyde "Seeds of Wonder Garden" grant (below), this grant funds repairs and improvements to the Mintie White school garden and will provide continued opportunities for students to write to their pen-pals at H.A. Hyde school about their discoveries in the garden.

"The Caring Garden project funded by the Schools Plus grant prompted new teaching ideas that promote healthy habits through exercise and eating a greater variety of vegetables and fruits, writing letters and exploring the plants and animals in our school garden. For the first time teachers implemented the use of student math and science journals to record observations and new learning. Students were encouraged to tase new food and write about their preferences. The project benefited not just the kindergarten classes, but also students from 15 other classes representing almost all grades from transitional kindergarten to the fifth grade." - Jane Wong

​​​​​​​Eileen Clark-Nagoaka - H.A. Hyde School

"The Seeds of Wonder Garden" (Kindergarten)

In collaboration with the Mintie White Elementary School "Caring Garden" grant (above), this grant funds development of a school garden which will inspire health eating habits, science-learning, and communication with students from another school.

      "Students observed first-hand not only the life-cycle of plants, but also that of the Monarch Butterflies when they laid their eggs in our Milkweed plants. We were very lucky to have a Food Corp volunteer working with us last year, Daiana Baez, (who) also worked as an intern with Life Lab and brought to our garden project a curriculum focused on nutrition and garden based eating. The Schools Plus Grant funds allowed us to buy many seeds, vegetable starts,and perennials (which) created a much more diverse garden with edible plants which we used to create salads, smoothies, and stir-fries.
    "This project involved a pen pal component with Jane Wong's kindergarten class from Minite White school. Both schools use our gardens regularly for science learning and we engaged our students in writing letters back and forth about favorite activities and foods."

- Eileen Clark-Nagaoka

Risa Schwartz - Mar Vista Elementary School

"Welcome to the Next Generation!" (2nd Grade)

This grant funds purchase of level-appropriate science texts.

"The mentor books I purchased with my Schools Plus Grant were extremely helpful tool when we did our unit on habitats and it gave us the information we needed to write our information books on habitats. The students were excited to use the new and special books in class. (Through) the varied levels of books, I was able to (give) my students equal access. (A) reaction from all my students was (that) they were upset over the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They were moved to go out and clean the playground and for the rest of the year told me (about the) garbage they found on the beach and cleaned up, even though it wasn't theirs." - Risa Schwartz


Suzanne Roth - Landmark Elementary School
"Literacy in Art" (1st & 2nd Grades)

This grant funds purchase of level-appropriate textbooks on the World Greatest Artists and how-to-draw instructions books for Classroom use.

Katy Scowcroft, Barbara Lawrence, and Molly Parks - Gault Elementary School

"Room 2 Reads: Integrating Community and Early Readers in the Classroom" (2nd Grade)

This grant funds purchase of books for use in a community readers project where in students read to members of the community.

         "Through my Room 2 Reads program, I was able to introduce my students to a variety of

community members, help students make personal connections to these individuals, and increase

students' motivation to read. (They) wrote about their experiences and shared about their favorite

guests. My students had a positive interaction that helped change their perception of the police.

         Our Tales to Tails dogs made a particular impact on students. One student in particular had a

major breakthrough with her fear of dogs and insecurities (about) reading. When I gave a student

a picture of her reading to the dog, she was so proud.
         At the end of the year, students loved presenting our librarian with a special collection of

books purchased with grant funds, and celebrated with a student-led presentation of books and

posters during our monthly Family Friday" - Katy Scowcroft

Mamiche Young - Mintie White Elementary School

"Monterey Bay Aquarium Field Trip" (Transitional Kindergarten)

This grant funds transportation to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as book and materials, as culmination and part of integrated Science, Arts, and Language Arts instruction about Marine Biology and Ecology.

"Our grant allowed us to buy supplies for art projects, journals,

andteach all about Marine Life. With this grant we were able

to really implement the learning opportunities that the

Monterey Bay Aquarium offers. They brought a lot of

knowledge to the field trip! Students who once feared sharks

learned that they are important and can be helpful

in the ecology of the ocean. The art the children

produced was amazing!" - Mamiche Young

Leigh Klein and Kim Korbein - Live Oak Elementary

"Hydroponic Classroom Garden" (5th Grade)

This grant funds installation of a classroom hydroponics garden. STEM learning and the concepts of solar energy, soil chemistry, photosynthesis, and water purification will be taught for years to come.

"This grant (added) to (our) science and history curriculum (with) a hands on experience. (Students learned) about the history of hydroponic gardens, how this method conserves 90% of the waters used to grow plants, how there are alternative ways to grow food, and how to care for these plants by checking the pH levels, water filters, air filters and giving seaweed nutrients.

​Julie Vallens - Amesti Elementary

"Geography and ELD through World Dance"  (3rd Grade)

This grant funds a field trip to the Mello Center to see Tandy Beal's World Dance presentation. This trip is the culmination of the sixteen-week long program emphasizing social studies, geography, dance and writing.


Calypso Harmon - Aptos Junior High School

"Evolution in Yeast" - 8th Grade

Students will breed yeast, observing the transformation from single-celled organisms to multicellular colonies. They will measure and record their observations, collaborating with their lab partners to choose the most productive yeast colonies to emulate the natural selection process.


Mariko McMillin, John Hayes, Bob Van Dyk, Nick Elias, Susan Toohey, Linda Carman and Deirdre Robinson - Shoreline Middle School

"Go Fly a Kite! Building kites to demonstrat math concepts" (6th-8th Grades)

In this school-wide project, the Math Department will engage all 545 students in building kites as a way to apply mathematical concepts and build 21st Century skills.

​​​​​​​​​Gail Alaimo, Laura Beach, and Ernest Kuwahara - Soquel High School

"Gemetric Morphometrics with Megalodon" (9th-12th Grades)

In this grant, students will use digital calipers to reconstruct a Megalodon jaw and compare it to the jaw of a Great White Shark, analyzing similarities and differences between the two species. As part of Biology and Environmental Science program, students will discuss natural selection and examine how extinctions affect populations.

"Our project provided over 165 students with the opportunity to explore concepts related to the study of natural selection and extinction through the model organism of Megalodon. In particular, students practiced making precise measurements of Megalodon fossil teeth and of 3D images of fossil teeth. From these measurements students manipulated regression equations to estimate total body length of Megalodon." - Laura Beach



                                                                                             "Shoreline Middle School's Math Department was pleased

                                                                                              to receive a grant from Schools Plus in order to engage all 545                                                                                                   of the school's students in building kites as a way to apply                                                                                                                    mathematical concepts and develop 21st Century skills such as                                                                                                                     communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking to                                                                                               design and create the kites. (The project) culminat(ed) with a                                                                                                     "launch party" at the beach.  This trip was a powerful experience                                                                                                 in unity. All students at the school had a shared experience they                                                                                                 could discuss because ALL students were engaged, even those that                                                                                                              are typically resistant to participate. As a result, the project was                                                                                                                motivating to teachers to integrate more project-based learning                                                                                                            into their classrooms."            - Mariko McMillin


Teacher Quote: "I was impressed by the amount of math and science applied to this activity in a sneaky way, where students had no idea they were applying what they have learned in class."

Sylvia Kennedy and Jerry Entwistle - Pajaro Valley High School

"A Tapestry of Latin American Literature for Spanish Second Language" (9th-12th Grades)

This grant funds a class set of novels and teachers' guides for the Spanish as Second Language Spanish Literature and Language Arts department.

    "We are so grateful to Schools Plus for the generous donation

to purchase novels in our Spanish classroom. With the

addition of these books, I saw an increase in student

engagement and participation.

     "Students were able to work on second language acquisition

using methods that were not focused around grammar

and drilling vocabulary. (They had) the opportunity to

learn language by reading and studying cultural themes

in the target language. The selected novels repeated high-

frequency words. The themes... got students to think

critically about ideas and events that they did not have

prior knowledge of. They were able to make connections

between their own cultures and those that we studied in

class. Constant repetition of words, phrases, and idea in class

(both spoken and written) increased student retention

of information."  - Sylvia Kennedy

​​​​​​​Maria del Socorro Garcia, Sandra Macias, and Cecilia Fernandez - Pajaro Valley High School

"The Right to Education" (9th-12th Grades)

This grant funds a class set of Malala, Mi Historia for a unit on The Right to Education / El Derecho a la Educacion for the Spanish Literature and Language Arts department.

"Reading and learning about the life of Malala and her struggle for the right for women to be educated, PVHS students developed an understanding of the power of education and the importance of literacy for all citizens. Two students presented their final projects on Malala at the district Tech Cadre Showcase that highlighted their use of technology and a profound understanding of the text through an integration of My Maps, Youtube videos, Google Classroom, and digital workbooks. " -Sandra Macias

Diana Susoy - Live Oak Elementary School

"Conversion of visual media materials from VHS to DVD"  (TK-5th Grades)
This grant funds a VHS to DVD conversion device which will allow the

preservation and continued use of multi-subject learning materials.

"The awarded grant has allowed me to convert VHS videos on hand

to DVDs, making these curriculum-based videos more available and

easier for teachers to use in the classrooms. Having the conversion

station has saved the library money so that more books can be

purchased. A new collection added this year was a "High Interest,

Low Leveled" collection for our Low Leveled 4th & 5th graders."

- Diana Susoy