For 16 years, the Denison Education Foundation has supported local educators and schools throughout the Denison Independent School District. As a part of this support, the Foundation has awarded over $600,000 to Denison teachers in grants to help fund teacher-designed programs that might not otherwise be budgeted for.

For 16 years, the Denison Education Foundation has supported local educators and schools throughout the Denison Independent School District. As a part of this support, the Foundation has awarded over $600,000 to Denison teachers in grants to help fund teacher-designed programs that might not otherwise be budgeted for.


The Denison Education Foundation toured Houston Elementary on Wednesday to see the results of teacher projects that the Foundation supported and funded through a series of grants. On Tuesday night, the DEF awarded nearly $8,000 in grants to teachers throughout the District as a part of its spring grant award.


"(The grants) allow teachers to dream about things for their students that the budget might not allow for," said Denison Superintendent Henry Scott.


"Most teachers can’t dig into their pockets for a $5,000 project," said Bob Rhoden, president of the DEF.


The DEF board visited the classroom of Beth Spindle and Leslie Lilley, who were awarded a grant for their project entitled, "If the Book Fits, Read It!" The program was designed to grant intensive reading support to struggling readers through the fifth grade. The program also is designed to help readers who are learning English as a second language.


During Wednesday’s tour, Spindle led a small group of students through a poem entitled "One, two, three, four, five." The poem doubles as a way to teach students to count to 10, while also teaching basic literacy skills, including rhyme.


In the gymnasium, Robin Trammell, physical education teacher at Houston, showed off a series of activity kits and lesson units that were designed to teach classroom skills, while also providing exercise. Trammell entitled her request, "What Makes Us Move Makes Us Think." It was one of three of her requests to get approval from the DEF.


"It gives them an opportunity to learn what they are taught in the classroom in another format," said Trammell, who said it helped appeal to students with different learning styles. "It is more like a game."


For her kindergarten students, Trammell used a program called "Half-Pint Skillastics," which had the students performing song and dance exercises, while learning basic skills like colors and shapes in both English and Spanish. The same grant allowed Trammell to implement a program for the older students to learn basketball skills through a board game. The program focuses on skill improvement over speed or beating the other students.


Donna Dowling showed the Board the results from her "Renovation Stations" grant, which she used to improve and update her aging and antiquated learning stations. In her classroom, Dowling was able to set up a station where students can listen to books on tape and read along with classroom sets of the book. Dowling had previously used reading stations in the past, but found that her tapes and equipment had become damaged from time and repeated use. The grant also allowed her to to replace educational games that had worn out.


Rhoden and Scott said many of the programs that start out from DEF grants are later added to the school budget as more teachers express interest in implementing the ideas in their own lesson plans. Rhoden said he remembers when a teacher approached the DEF for funding for carpets that could be used to teach basic math. Since then, these carpets have become a part of all first grade math lesson plans.