Return to Headlines

Thirty Teachers Win IDEA Grants Valued at $24,000

Thirty Teachers Win IDEA Grants Valued at $24,000

WFISD Foundation funds creative classroom ideas and new technology

"" ""

Kathleen Stutzman (center), a Booker T. Washington kindergarten teacher, receives an IDEA Grant and the congratulations of her principal, Mark Davis (right). Travis Armstrong (left), director of early learning, presented Ms. Stutzman with her win.

“iPads, boys and girls! iPads!” squealed teacher Caili Knecht.

On  Nov 17, 2017, the Booker T. Washington first-grade teacher welcomed an IDEA Grant prize patrol group into her classroom.  The administrators presented her with a balloon bouquet and a check to fund an urgent request for her classroom.

As the children watched the prize patrol leave, she clarified what this surprise visit meant to them: iPads!


"" ""

Booker T. Washington 1st grade teacher Caili Knecht (center) celebrates her IDEA Grant win with principal Mark Davis (left) and Director of Early Learning Travis Armstrong (right).


A similar surprise occurred Friday in 29 other classrooms in 15 schools across the District. Ms. Knecht was one of 30 WFISD teachers who won an IDEA Grant, one of WFISD’s most special traditions.

Every year, the WFISD Foundation rewards teachers by funding grants that provide things teachers need to make learning exciting. All teachers have to do is submit a request early in the school year for something they need and explain why they need it.


A new high in generosity

This year, the WFISD Foundation awarded 24 grants worth $24,000 – a new high in generosity.

At Booker T. Washington Elementary, where Caili Knecht teaches, every teacher at the East Side school wrote up an IDEA Grant request, said Assistant Principal Angela Rooney. It’s no surprise then, that the most grants awarded at one school – three and part of a fourth grant – went to Booker T. Washington teachers.

Down the hall from Caili Knecht, Booker T. Washington kindergarten teacher Lacey Davis won an IDEA Grant to fund an Osmo device for hands-on learning; Kathleen Stutzman won an IDEA grant that will bring Legos into her kindergarten classroom; and pre-K teacher Bethany Horschler teamed up with two Burgess teachers, Elise Fox and Tonia Boyett, to request a grant that will provide unique homework packets for children to work on with their parents.


"" ""

Surprise! A prize patrol, along with a television cameraman, bursts into Lacey Davis’ kindergarten classroom to surprise her with an IDEA Grant. “This means that we won!” she told her class. “How exciting!”

A unique tradition

This unique tradition urges teachers to make a case for equipment or supplies in their classroom that would otherwise be unaffordable for them. Many request books, projects or games that will bring new learning opportunities to class. Others ask for technology to do new things in the classroom. Some ask for money that will fund new learning experiences.

Burgess first-grade teacher Julie Woolsey won a grant called, “Old McDonald Comes to Town” that will fund a unit of lessons on farms and farm animals. It will culminate with the visit of a petting zoo to the campus that all the school’s children can enjoy.


"" ""

At Burgess Elementary, Jamie Newberry gets the good news: She has won an IDEA Grant. From left: Newberry, Travis Armstrong, director of early learning.

Robotics requests big this year

This year, several winners asked for robotics supplies. McNiel Middle School’s Courtney Reames won a grand called, “Hands-On Coding with Ozobots,” for her sixth-graders; Zundy Elementary’s Lindsay Rogers won a grant called “Zundy Robot Uprising” for her fifth-graders, and Talented and Gifted teacher Jamie Jo Morgan won a robotics-oriented project called, “Smart Solor Robotic Aquaponics.”

Barwise Middle School’s Christopher Freeman won a substantial grant that will fund a robotics club.


IDEA Grant Winners

The following WFISD teachers won IDEA Grants this year:

  • Christopher Freeman, Barwise Middle School, “Robotics Club: Innovation Through Building,” 6th-8th grade
  • Caili Knecht, Booker T. Washington Elementary, “iNeed iPads!”, 1st grade
  • Lacey Davis, Booker T. Washington Elementary, “Osmo…Hands-on Learning”, kindergarten
  • Kathleen Stutzman, Booker T. Washington Elementary, “Learning with Legos,” kindergarten
  • Elise Fox (Burgess Elementary), Tonia Boyett (Burgess) and Bethany Horschler (Booker T. Washington), “Come Play With Me,” pre-k
  • Jamie Newberry, Burgess Elementary, “One Book for Burgess,” 2nd grade
  • Julie Woolsey, Burgess Elementary, “Old McDonald Comes to Town,” 1st grade
  • Jamie Jo Morgan, Carrigan TAG Program, “Smart Solor Robotic Aquaponics,” grades 3-5
  • Jessica Jacobs and Amanda Beck, Cunningham Elementary, “Oh, The Places We Will Go,” Pre-k/PPCD
  • Brandy Honeycutt, Cunningham, “Road to Discovery,” pre-K/PPCD
  • Daniele Chavez and Mary Cleman, Fain Elementary, “Makerspace Magic,” grades K-5
  • Lexi Law, Franklin Elementary, “Mars Rover, Mars Rover, Send an Experience Right Over,” 5th grade
  • Tonya Parham, Rider High School, Hirschi High School and Wichita Falls High School Special Education, “From Trash to Cash”
  • Cindy Peterson, Lana Brewster, Priscilla Lopez, Jefferson Elementary, “Implementing Innovative and Interactive Instruction with IPEVO,” kindergarten
  • Kristan Neeb, Jefferson Elementary, “Inventing a Solution: What Problem Do You Want to Solve?”, library
  • Lenora Krugle, Kirby Middle School, “Techy Teens Take Over Texas Tech,” 8th grade
  • Stephanie Roberts, Lamar Elementary, “Full Steam Ahead,” kindergarten
  • Megan Halford, Lamar Elementary, “Students Build for Success with Engineering Station,” 5th grade
  • Megan Halford, Raquel Ramirez, Melissa Horn, Lamar Elementary, “Capturing Students with Break-Out Boxes,” 5th grade
  • Courtney Reames, McNiel Middle School, “Hands-On Coding with Ozobots,” 6th grade
  • Tiffany Hutchison and Amanda Miller, Milam Elementary, “Tiggly Wiggly,” kindergarten
  • Ashley Peterson and Wendy Presson, Wichita Falls High School, “Explore with Google Expedition – Science,” grades 9, 11 and 12
  • Lindsay Rogers, Zundy Elementary, “Zundy Robot Uprising,” 5th grade
  • Marci Zimmerman, Zundy Elementary, “Technology for All,” special education students

"" ""


Burgess teacher Elise Fox (second from left) was doing an errant in her hallway when she spotted the IDEA Grant Prize Patrol heading her way. She screamed and ran back to her classroom, pumping her fists into the air. She and fellow teacher Tonia Boyett (third from left) had been asking one another if the prize patrol might visit them that day. When they learned they had won their IDEA Grant, they jumped up and down, hugged, and cheered. From left: Travis Armstrong, Elise Fox, Tonia Boyett, and Jane Ann Bruner, pre-K instructional coach.