Toyota and United Way donate thousands to teachers


Toyota and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas provided grants to almost 20 educators from five Dallas ISD schools on Monday.

The “DRIVE presented by Toyota” grant provides financial support to select educators in the Adamson and Pinkston feeder patterns.

Each awardee received a monetary donation ranging from $500–$2,500. The purpose is to equip teachers with tools and resources to enhance learning. The funds are also designed to create environments that ignite learning.

Toyota and United Way donate thousands to teachers

“The ‘DRIVE presented by Toyota’ grants are one part of Toyota’s commitment to expand opportunities and create a culture of inclusion to strengthen communities. It is part of our overall work with the West Dallas community,” said Matthew Sheldon, spokesperson for Toyota Motor North America. “These grants represented the commitment each one of these educators has for their students and schools. These grants were all indicative of the needs the students and teachers have in order to create a positive and safe learning space.”

The awardees

Eladio R. Martinez Learning Center

Name: Angelica McGhee
Role and grade level: Second-grade teacher
Project title: Teaching Responsive Classroom
Grant: $2,500
Details: McGhee is receiving this grant with a vision to improve academic performance, a plan to build stronger relationships with students, and support students with the development of life skills such as goal setting, teamwork, problem solving and analytical thinking.

Name: Josefina Murillo
Role and grade level: Principal
Project title: Social and Emotional Learning through a Sensory Environment
Grant: $2,500
Details: With this grant, Murillo is looking to increase students’ self-management skills, increase self-awareness skills, and improve academic growth for all students.

Name: Maria Elysa Sarmiento
Role and grade level: Special education teacher, grades 3–6
Project title: Sensory Room/Area for SPED and All
Grant: $2,500
Details: Sarmiento is receiving this grant with a clear vision of decreasing challenging behaviors due to sensory needs and increasing learning due to the sensory needs being met appropriately.

Gabe P. Allen Charter School

Name: Maria Esparza
Role and grade level: Bilingual fourth- and fifth-grade teacher
Project title: Flexible Seating for more engaged, active learners
Grant: $2,500
Details: Esparza submitted this grant application with a vision to increase student engagement, increase communication and collaboration between students and increase critical thinking.

Name: Mrs. Richardson
Role and grade level: Special Education FLS
Project title: Fundamental Life Skills
Grant: $1,000
Details: With this grant, Richardson is hoping to increase the social and emotional materials available to students and simultaneously build positive relationships and social communication skills.

Sidney Lanier Expressive Arts Vanguard

Name: Katie Bowery
Role and grade level: Seventh-grade teacher
Project title: Printer/copier
Grant: $750
Details: Bowery has a vision to increase overall efficiency and supplies to students. These are supplies that are critical for the success of the class.

Name: Kelly Pate
Role and grade level: Library media specialist, grades pre-K–7
Project title: Read for Pleasure/Read to Learn
Grant: KPMG First Book
Details: With this grant, Pate has a vision to increase upper-grade reading pleasure. By adding these books, new curriculums will be taught with a goal of increasing reading ability.

Name: Mark Hillegas
Role and grade level: Director of Orchestras, grades 3–7
Project title: UIL Music, Cello Rockstops, & String Sets
Grant: $2,500
Details: Hillegas will support students at their first UIL competition. Additionally, he will replace string sets and rockstops to hold cellos in place from slipping.

Arcadia Park Elementary School

Name: Cheneka Ward
Role and grade level: Second-grade teacher
Project title: STEM Education through Coding & Robotics: 10 Chromebooks
Grant: 10 donated laptops
Details: Ward wants to provide students with the opportunity to learn more about coding and create a special project. This project will allow students to construct a robot that moves with various programming techniques. Ward is excited to encourage students to explore more STEM careers.

Name: Kenshel Hills
Role and grade level: Second-grade teacher
Project title: Cross Curriculum: Reading and Writing with STEM connections; 10 Chromebooks
Grant: 10 donated laptops
Details: With this grant, Hill wants to increase students’ critical and creative thinking by completing a digital story and using coding skills integrated with reading and writing.

Name: Maria Figueroa
Role and grade level: Second-grade bilingual teacher
Project title: Reaching our potential – iPads for the Dual Language Classroom; four ipads
Grant: $1,500 or donated laptops
Details: Figueroa submitted a grant application with the vision to engage in one-on-one personalized and targeted literacy skills to improve student academic achievement, while at the same time supporting English language acquisition for bilingual students and teaching 21st-century skills such as technology, critical thinking, collaboration and productivity.

Name: Lucio Ruiz
Role and grade level: Third-grade teacher
Project title: Connecting Students with Kindles
Grant: $2,500
Details: Ruiz is receiving this grant to increase student access to online learning curriculum and increase student achievement on district assessments.

Name: Yvonne Estes
Role and grade level: Sixth-grade teacher
Project title: Journalism/Photography Club for students in grades 3–6
Grant: $2,500
Details: With this grant, Estes will introduce students to the basics of professional photography and expose students to the field of journalism. Through this project students will play a role in the creation of the school yearbook and hopefully a photography/art show for everyone to enjoy.

L.G. Pinkston High School

Name: Charise Romeo
Project title: Hydrophonic Vegetable Garden
Grant: $2,500
Details: Romeo submitted an innovative grant proposal with a vision to create a student-grown vegetable garden. Students’ will learn about sustainable farming techniques.

Name: Laura Minatrea
Project title: Rebuilding Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Art Program
Grant: $2,500
Details: With this grant students will have access to proper art class facilities, such as a sink. This will allow for more exploratory projects and a more diverse and enriching art experience. Additionally, Minatrea would love for students to have more access to everyday supplies and create a more streamlined class experience.

Name: Reginald Jones
Project title: Student Engagement
Grant: $1,500
Details: Jones wants students to gain valuable experiences that will fuel their desire for discovery, experience history hands-on and understand the impact of early civilizations on 21st-century culture.

Name: Sarah Anne Ballinger
Project title: Ballinger Biology and Chemistry at The 2200
Grant: 2 Grants: $1,500 each
Details: Ms. Ballinger will be able to increase the amount of active monitoring around the classroom by using this device and application that can wirelessly mirror and mark on the projected display instead of needing to travel to the one whiteboard at the front of the room behind the demonstration table, thus increasing student engagement and level of understanding.

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