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June 11, 2013 > Teachers' wishes come true

Teachers' wishes come true

Article and photos by Miriam G. Mazliach

Carrying colorful balloons and placards, shouts of glee greeted visitors who entered classrooms of unsuspecting teachers on the morning of June 3rd. It was the annual surprise visit by members of the Fremont Education Foundation, accompanied by school district staff, to award Innovative Teacher Grants.

Fremont Education Foundation (FEF) distributes these grants to teachers for specific classroom projects with funds raised at the Foundation's annual Excellence in Education Gala, held this year on February 22.

Assisting the thirteen classroom visits were Vice President of FEF and Chair of Innovative Education Grants, Sherea Westra; FUSD Director of Elementary Education, Debbie Amundson; Superintendent Dr. James Morris, and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Dr. Deborah Sims.

To be considered for a grant, teachers were asked, earlier in the school year, to submit a written proposal describing their classroom project. A committee of past recipients, school district representatives and FEF Board members read all submissions before making the final selections.

Blacow Elementary School teacher, Kyle Cayce excitedly said about his technology and iPad oriented project, "We're going to have a miniature Blacow Khan Academy" referring to a popular website containing thousands online educational videos. "I'm very excited to get the technology into the hands of the students," Cayce added.

Another teacher, Katherine Geers of Mission San Jose High School, was extremely happy to get her history and family identity project funded. Geers stated, "Collaborating with students, teachers, administrators, has been helping to make [this process] all a meaningful experience."

According to Westra, "This year FEF gave out $34,690.31, just slightly less than last year. Additionally, contributing to the total amount raised were sponsors: Wells Fargo, Fremont Bank, Kaiser, Cargill, Chevron, Chevrolet, Robson Homes, Fremont Firefighters, and Washington Hospital Foundation."

2013-2014 Innovative Education Grant recipients are:

Debbie Afana: Brookvale Elementary - $1,338.52
"Assistive Technology to Support Written Expression"
This project employs assistive technology to engage and support students in the writing process in order to build self-confidence and strengthen skills in written expression.

Pamela Weiss Barr: Fremont Adult School - $3,000
"Improving Students' Writing Skills Using iPads"
Using iPads to engage students in collaborative writing projects keeps persistence levels high and prepares students for jobs in the 21st century.

Gary Benz: American High School - $2,829.05
"Acid Rain, Global Warming and the Ozone Layer. Oh my!"
Human activity has changed the atmosphere. Students will explore how history, science and engineering can propose solutions to mitigate the socio-economic impact of this activity.

Kyle Cayce: Blacow Elementary - $3,000
"Empowering Students with Video Micro-Lectures"
Utilizing modern mobile technologies, students will produce a web-based portfolio of video recorded micro-lectures demonstrating proficiency in the grade level skills necessary for academic success.

Maria De Luz: Leitch Elementary - $3,000
"Using Primary Sources to Build a Community of Thinkers"
Students "think like historians" in standards-based projects where they access, research, and analyze digital primary sources, and create multimedia presentations to share their learning.

Katherine Geers: Mission San Jose High School - $3,000
"A History of Us: Identity, Membership, and Obligation in Community"
Students research familial events within broader immigration patterns, relating historical narratives to their community, and publish the final project online and in historical archives.

Joanne Goveia and Monalissa Cruz: Hirsch Elementary - $1,487.85
"When We Engage - They (i)Respond"
The (i)Respond system, a wireless, interactive and engaging electronic system, allows every student to respond to cross curriculum questions giving us - teachers - real-time feedback.

Sherri Hamilton: Oliveira Elementary - $3,000
"It's a Zoo in Here! First Graders as Researchers and Zoologists"
First grade "zoologists" will become animal experts, teaching about animal classification through unique projects and presentations while leading fellow classes on a zoo tour.

Prince Padania: Oliveira Elementary - $2,999.12
"Fired Up For Reading"
With 12 classroom Kindles, kindergarteners will access thousands of books and educational apps to activate emergent reading skills and enrich learning during independent workshop time.

Susan Quan: Leitch Elementary - $3,000
"Becoming Digital Storytellers Utilizing iPads"
Using classroom iPads and teacher-chosen educational apps, students will become high-tech storytellers by writing, narrating, and presenting their own digital stories.

Candace Sykes: American High School - $3,000
"Introducing Green Chemistry"
Chemistry students will learn Green Chemistry principles by investigating various manufacturing methods for common consumer products using 21st century data collection tools.

Kari Weber: Niles Elementary - $2,056.67
"Kindles for Klassrooms!"
25 Kindle e-readers to assist in getting unlimited whole-book literature into the hands of every student. Built in features help differentiate for all.

Hollie Stark: Centerville Junior High - $2,979.10
"Measuring Acceleration"
Students will understand what happens to the velocity and position of an object as it accelerates through the use of motion tracks and digital timers.

For more information about Fremont Education Foundation, visit

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