U-46 teachers, staff awarded grants for projects
A family book club, a student mentoring program and high school biotechnology experiments are among the innovative ideas that earned eight Elgin Area School District U-46 teachers and support staff members grants to enhance student learning.
U-46 Educational Foundation board members surprised the winners Thursday at their schools with $500 Innovation Mini-Grants for their creative teaching techniques.
"Each of these grants will provide activities that enhance, enrich and complement existing opportunities in U-46 for students, families and staff," foundation board President Bud Wilson said. Winners were selected from among 27 proposals. They are:
• Philip Church, Bartlett High School science teacher, for hands-on biotechnology experiments related to DNA and heredity.
• Sarah Rabe, principal of Centennial Elementary School in Bartlett, for the development of sensory paths to support students with a sensory processing disorder.
• Lisa Holbrook, Elgin High School multitiered system of supports lead teacher, for Maroon Mentoring Program helping students with traumatic life experiences develop relationships, social skills, and a sense of belonging.
• Heather Flick, science teacher at Eastview Middle School in Bartlett, for supporting Science Olympiad program participants with team supplies.
• Rachel Pinkepank, Title 1 teacher interventionist at Hillcrest Elementary School in Elgin, for establishing parent-child book clubs for second- and third-graders and their families.
• Michelle Esmenda, secretary at Glenbrook Elementary School in Streamwood, for an outdoor marquee to improve communications among students, families and the community.
• Haley Levitan, psychologist at Ontarioville Elementary School in Hanover Park, for providing flexible seating options, such as standing desks and foot swings, for students having difficulty concentrating.
• Martha Laskus, early childhood teacher at Horizon Elementary School in Hanover Park, for creating Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Program activities, such as a light table and related manipulatives to help students acquire skills in a play-based manner.
The U-46 Educational Foundation was started in 2006 by a group of community leaders and district supporters. Its mission is to enhance the quality of education for U-46 students.
A 16-member board oversees the nonprofit, which has distributed nearly $500,000 to district programs since its inception. That includes purchasing heart rate monitors for physical education students, granting more than $20,000 to the U-46 Planetarium for its full-dome shows, and supporting U-46 middle school and high school teams competing in the Illinois Science Olympiad.