For 25 years, the volunteer service organization Junior League of Dallas has opened doors to scores of learning experiences for Dallas ISD students by funding teachers’ proposals for creative educational projects.
Since 1992, the group has invested $1.25 million in such opportunities for students through its Grants for Innovative Teaching (GFIT) Program. In preparation for next school year, the League is accepting proposals for grants of up to $2,000 from teachers and other school staff now through May 16. Information is available at www.jld.net.
The variety of projects funded over the last quarter century is impressive. Traditional projects have included trips to museums, theater performances, and cultural events. On the other end of the spectrum, teachers have engaged students in studies tracking the life cycle of chickens, growing hydroponic plants, building robots from Legos, and turning recycled materials into wearable garments.
League President Meredith Mosley says the grant program is a partnership with teachers to stimulate learning.
“Through the GFIT program, Dallas ISD teachers who are making a difference in the lives of students are able to provide new opportunities for learning,” said Mosley. “We look forward to seeing the impact these projects have on students.”
Multiple Careers Magnet High School teacher Terry Stotts, one of 42 teachers whose projects were funded this school year, says the impact is significant and lasting. He said his special needs students learned career skills, good work habits, compassion, and the importance of a positive attitude as they built wooden toy rocking horses for donation to Ronald McDonald House and teen moms.
At Dr. Emmett J. Conrad High School, Jonathan Smith’s students in the Academy of Health Sciences and the Future Health Professionals Club researched health issues in their community and hosted a health fair. The event featured medical providers, diabetes and blood pressure screenings, nutrition, fitness and home safety information, and CPR and first-aid demonstrations.
Luz Torres of Alex Sanger Elementary used the grant to teach her students to apply technology, engineering, art and math skills to design and sew garments using recyclables. Students also learned about conservation and the impact recycling can have on the earth’s resources.
“I would highly encourage colleagues to apply for a Junior League grant,” Torres said. “This grant allowed our students to apply the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom to a fun and creative project that enhanced their learning.”
Texas Instruments executive Trisha Cunningham said TI, a major sponsor of the program for seven years, will again provide support this year to specifically underwrite STEM grants.
“It is an honor to partner with JLD for another year in recognizing Dallas ISD educators who are engaging students in STEM subjects,” Cunningham said. “The GFIT awards and the projects they support are an investment in the future.”