A whopping $30,497.65 in teacher grants was awarded at this year’s Convocations by the North East Educational Foundation (NEEF). Three grant recipients will soon be able to incorporate outdoor learning into their curriculum.

Michelle Saenz, a pre-K teacher at Bulverde Creek Elementary School, received $2,266.80 for an outdoor interactive classroom. The outdoor space will feature a mud kitchen, workbench and other activities.

Another outdoor learning grant was awarded to Jennifer Humphrey from Nimitz Middle School for $4,500. The outdoor learning center will provide a sensory garden where students will be able to touch, smell and taste different plants growing in the garden. They will also see and listen to birds and pollinators, as well as make music of their own.

Alicia Jeffrey and Caitlyn Khoury from Tuscany Heights Elementary School were awarded $3,000 for a mobile imagination station. With assorted indoor/outdoor building blocks and moveable items, children will enjoy physical activity and learn through unstructured play.

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Katherine Dalton wants students to gain real-world, hands-on experience with managing beehives, understanding the ins and outs of beekeeping, harvesting, marketing, and producing honey. Beekeeping is key to maintaining a balanced and ample food supply.

Pamela Stevenson from Thousand Oaks Elementary received $5,880.44 for a Media Production and Collaborative Common Space Set Up. This grant will provide an environment for creativity and collaborative opportunities in media production. The students will be producers of their ideas and share their work with the school community.

Claudia Cardona, Luis Badillo and Alejandra Campos from Walzem Elementary School jointly applied for a $3,710 grant for Enhancing Learning Experiences Through Classroom Transformations. Thematic learning experiences will engage students in learning that transfers beyond the walls of the classroom by converting classrooms into medical offices, construction sites, restaurants and much more.

At Oak Meadow Elementary, their grant brings the world to the students through Virtual Reality Learning: Where Reality Ends and Imagination Begins. Teachers Yasleitza Natal-Rivera and Mary Koudelka received $9,574 to create an immersive VR experience for students, enabling the viewer to better understand subjects and topics without leaving the classroom.

Additional grant recipients will be announced this fall. NEEF looks forward to visiting these grants in action!

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