Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 27, 2012

Bullard Education Foundation surprises teachers with grant awards

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

BULLARD —  Programs at local schools received a huge boost from the Bullard Education Foundation, which visited campuses Monday to announce grants they've awarded.

Among the four Bullard High School recipients was Kris Shustella, instructor of a self-contained special needs program that serves 78 students.

Shustella said the $4,988.14 Campbell Custom Honors Grant would be used to make his classroom “cutting edge” to better serve his students.

“It's for a multi-sensory environment for special-needs students, from simple things like switching the fluorescent lighing to LED lighting, because (fluorescent lighting can agitate students), or longer-term projects like adding swings and providing updates to our sensory room,” he said.

The sensory room – affectionately known as the “peace-out room,” he said, smiling – provides a healing place for students by allowing them to use all five senses to become calm when they need it.

According to foundation president Darren Davis, who helped coordinate Monday's event, the non-profit foundation created five years ago to benefit the Bullard public schools is funded completely by donations, with volunteers serving on the board.

It began awarding grants four years ago and has distributed $140,000 to date, he said.

This year, $38,900 in grant money was distributed to teaching staff at the different BISD campuses, for a total of 20 grants.

“We focused on those innovative programs not normally funded by the district,” Davis said. “I hate to use the term 'outside the box,' but these programs were definitely outside the box.”

Primary campus grant recipients include: Natalie Norman, who received a $245.55 grant for Pre-K Smartboard Games software, a hands-on interactive learning program; the Bullard kindergarten teaching team, which was awarded a $4,700 WRL Grant for Bus Brainiacs, which will provide TV monitors in kindergarten hallways to allow learning opportunities while students wait for their buses; and a $298.89 grant to Stacy Golden for the purchase of Learning Game Libraries, which offers 80 games that cover specific state-mandated skills.

At the Bullard Intermediate campus, grants were awarded to: Debbie Wilbanks, who received $1,560 for purchase of a Smartboard for the campus visual arts classroom; Bonnie Horrick received $799 for purchase of Gizmos, a virtual teaching tool that helps students increase inquiry and investigation beyond current constraints; Andrea Shustella and Sharla Rounsavall received a $2,484 Woodmen of the World Grant for the purchase of six iPads for the campus reading program; Angela Talley received a $650 grant for Mixbooks, allowing students to design and publish their own books; Terra Lee, a $4,935 grant for purchase of 15 iPad Minis for use in math and language arts classes; Loree Green and Kenya Johnson, a $1,517.40 grant for purchase of 60 “Return to ScienceSaurus” hardcover books; and Stacey Russell, a $2,240 grant for purchase of five iPads for the campus social studies program.

Rachel Crain was awarded a $600 grant to help underwrite a middle school field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.

Grants awarded for elementary campus programs include those to: Lisa Williams, $1,241 for video streaming equipment and subscription; Teresa Green, Bonnie Martin and April Smith, who each received $1,000 grants for the purchase of two iPad 2 tablets; and Jennifer Carlile, $2,500 for supplies to supplement the district PAWS program.

High school faculty, besides Kris Shustella, who received grants were: Stacey Gwartney and Alana Cannon, $4,998 for a green project solar car entry and $1,000 to Gwartney for an FTC Robotics Competition entry fees; and Laura Hunter, $987 for college campus visits for seniors interested in technical fields.