UPDATED: Junior League grants fuel teaching innovation in classrooms

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Updated 5/20: The deadline for teachers to apply for an innovative teaching grant from the Junior League of Dallas has been extended to May 26 at 5 p.m. Click here for the application and additional resources.

Original story: What teacher doesn’t wish for just a little more money to do something extra for students?

The extras can include a field lesson to a museum, purchasing supplies for a hands-on experiment, or investing in technology such as iPads or Chromebooks to expand students’ bandwidth for research. Money for extras encourages teachers to think creatively about ways to make learning fresh and exciting for their students. Thankfully, the Junior League of Dallas Grants for Innovative Teaching Program has funded this kind of out-of-the-box thinking for more than two decades.

Since 1991, the program has awarded more than $1 million in grants to Dallas ISD teachers for projects not normally provided for in school budgets. Every spring, the funding process begins with Junior League members inviting teachers to submit their ideas and budgets for innovative projects. Teachers who do the best job of connecting the dots between their ideas and the concepts they propose to teach can receive up to $2,000 to implement their projects.

The application period for funding for 2015-2016 projects is open now through May 18. Applications, previously-funded projects, an overview of the program, and instructions for creating winning applications are available on the Junior League of Dallas website.

A sample of this year’s projects included:

  • A Culture Club that funded outings for students at Quintanilla Middle School to cultural venues such as the Dallas Children’s Theater and the Latino Cultural Center;
  • A robotics club at Sunset High School that involved students in the design, construction and programming of robots that were placed in competitions;
  • An interdisciplinary mural project at F.P. Caillet Elementary that challenged students to create art projects that visually reinforced academic concepts.

Go here to see a video of students engaged in an aquaponics project created by Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College High School biology teacher Donielle Tyeskie with Junior League funding.

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