Local public schools get creativity boost

Local public schools get creativity boost

The Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation’s ‘Prize Patrol’ worked overtime last week, delivering
$37,000-plus worth of oversized checks to 93 teachers in Champaign’s Unit 4 and Urbana’s District 116.

The grants will fund 66 projects aimed at 'fostering creativity and elevating excellence' in C-U public schools. Here’s the full list of projects on the way, with the names of each teacher awarded a grant:

Cross-district projects

Mathematics escape room

This project, aimed at promoting critical and logical thinking skills in a fun, unconventional way, will see students at Central, Centennial and Urbana high schools work together to solve a series of puzzles and unlock a box using clues, hints and strategy.

Math teachers will work together to bring an escape room into their classrooms, which project lead and Central math teacher Erin Carmichael says "offers students a unique opportunity to persevere in problem solving, as well as work together in a way that is beyond their routine course work."

Inter-city strings in concert with friends

New stringed instruments are coming to Champaign and Urbana public schools so that any student who wishes to learn how to play one will have the opportunity to join strings class.

Beth McDonald (Washington Elementary) and Tamra Gingold (Urbana High) will work with other teachers in the district to plan a high school music composition competition and concert. Winning compositions will be featured in a springtime inter-city strings performance with Robin Kearton from Bowdacious Strings and Community Center for the Arts.

Competitive grants

Breakout EDU for all

Bryan Lake, Beth Mears, Tara Olsen, Karla Schroeder, Paige Waggoner and Kathleen Carter (Urbana schools). Through an immersive, collaborative game platform, students will use classroom content to solve riddles and clues.

Find yourself in a book

Rebecca Kasten (Westview Elementary). The goal: to improve the school's foreign language book collection, filling it with books in a variety of languages and reading levels.

Sheet metal tool

Kyle Thomas (Urbana High). A 3-in-1 welding tool will be purchased, allowing students to fold, roll and create metal projects.

Young leaders service learning

Lisa Mosely (Westview Elementary). At-risk fifth-grade boys will identify, plan and carry out community service projects.

Jewelry art studio

Jamila Appleby (Stratton Elementary). Students will create jewelry for a variety of purposes, including costumes.

Professionalism in the workplace

Michael Slagor, Laura Koterba-Buss and Michael Crossin (Central and Centennial). The goal: to prepare students with disabilities for the workplace by giving them work-appropriate attire or clothing needed for a job uniform.

Spotlight on singing in New York

Marian Wyatt (Centennial). While on a trip to the Big Apple, choir students will participate in a 90-minute workshop with a vocal director from Broadway's "Aladdin."

Makerspace in the library

Emily Pickell (Central). A STEAM-focused makerspace will launch in Central's library, where students can tinker during advisory and lunch periods.

Shadow puppets of Bali and Java

Grant Thomas (Barkstall Elementary). Students in grades 3-5 will learn about Indonesian shadow puppets, then create their own.

The next Scorsese? Equipping students to create short films

Mark Foley (Urbana High). A high-quality digital camera will be bought, allowing students to shoot and edit footage to create a short film which they'll present at a film festival.

Swivl robot, Swivl cloud

Deborah Stapleton, Christina Compesino (Dr. Howard Elementary). This pilots a Swivl robot and cloud storage tool, making learning visible and audible from anywhere in the classroom.

REAL men read

Alyssa Petruzello, Leslie Martin (Dr. Howard). Combines the Scholastic REAL program with volunteers from the C-U 1 to 1 mentoring program. Funds will be used to purchase books for students to add to their home libraries.

Now you're speaking my language

Cassandra Hall, Mary Linnenburger (Champaign Early Childhood Center). Funds will be used to record audio books in the home languages of dual-language learning students.

Legos and literacy

Jaclyn Cross, Zach Cain (Edison Middle School). Students will study the book "The Matilda Effect" and use Legos to design storyboards of what they're reading and writing.

Authentic French materials

Liana Pasquini (Stratton Elementary). Materials will be purchased for students to use in the school's new French Dual Immersion Kindergarten classroom.

Universal UHS

Jenna Finch, Yvonne Alvarez (Urbana High). Two large world maps will be placed on either side of the main entrance to school. Every student will create a label with their name, country of origin and graduation year, building a permanent graphic representation of UHS's international diversity.

Experiencing art, student-curated exhibit:

Carol-Lyn Comparetto, Ravyn Rodgers (Central). Advanced art students will plan and participate in an all-student art show.

Balanced literacy through science and social studies inquiry units

Sara Carrillo, Wendy Wirtz (Leal Elementary). Dual-language classrooms will be better equipped with Spanish resources.

American identity spectrum painting

Rusty Clevenger (Dr. Williams Elementary). Students will critique modern and contemporary American painters and create a composition expressing their own unique American identity.

Franklin fit center

Amanda Taake, Matt Black (Franklin Middle School). An empty classroom will be converted into a Fitness/Activities Center, with the goal to make students stronger and introduce them to a type of fitness they might not otherwise experience.

Placing language learning in students' hands

Rebekah Hoffman (Wiley and Yankee Ridge Elementary). Duplicate sets of classroom games and manipulatives will be available for students to check out and use with their families.

Utilizing a self-sustaining food source

Michelle Greear (South Side Elementary) and Chris Gratkins (Stratton Elementary). Students will create a self-sustaining food source and learn about the positive impact vertical agriculture has on climate change.

Bee happy

Joni White (Urbana High) and Katrina Reber (Urbana Middle School). Students in different grade levels will both build and maintain a beehive.

Compact grants

Nuestros Libros Favoritos

Emily Aguilar (Leal Elementary). For Spanish-language books to check out and use at home.

Shared reading and writing in kindergarten

Ellen Archer Puffer (King Elementary). For a classroom easel.

ICode with iPads

Gail Beck (Leal Elementary). For Osmo Coding Awbie Games for students to learn coding.

Genius hour

Tiffany Blackmon (Barkstall Elementary). For Lego kits for STEM challenges during "Genius Hour."

"Piratas" Spanish readers

Janet Blair (Edison Middle School). For readers, teacher guide and "pirate-related" supplies.

Game club

Evan Bliss (Franklin Middle School). For replacing and expanding Franklin's Game Club collection.

Introducing novels in the Spanish classroom

Blanca Bustos (Franklin Middle School). For replenishing readers for Spanish class.

Building a foundation through gardening

Candice Cobb (Urbana Middle School). For creating raised bed gardens.

Animal investigators

Erica Cooper-Peyton (Dr. Williams Elementary). For five visits from Anita Purves Nature Center traveling naturalists.

Can you hear me now?

Abby Crull (Westview Elementary). For a YETI microphone students can record, edit and publish on.

Growing readers

Jeralyn Goodfellow Vargas (Stratton Elementary). For high-interest readers for first-grade dual-language class.

Early literacy

Tori Harvey (King Elementary). For books about children from different backgrounds.

Literature in art

Amy Johnson (Westview). For books on peace, kindness, creativity and problem solving.

Folktales retold by ESL students

Jenna Ko (Washington Elementary). For books students can take home.

Flexible seating for all

Bridget Maloney (Leal Elementary). For bean-bag chairs to provide flexible options for students with sensory needs.

Literacy centers

Kathleen Morgan (Bottenfield Elementary). For resources for literacy and math centers.

Dual-language mentor text library

Gabriel Nardie (Leal Elementary). For a rolling cart and culturally appropriate texts for dual-language learners.

Write from your comfort spot

Zanne Newman (Franklin Middle School). For soft chairs and a rug for use during writing time.

Pioneer Valley literacy footprints resource

Holly Rednour (Stratton Elementary). For books for small-group-guided reading instruction.

Frog dissection

Brian Rosten (Franklin Middle School). For frogs to be dissected.

Reflective classroom library

Danielle Schaub (Dr. Williams Elementary). For updating classroom library with multicultural texts.

Teaching social skills

Ellen Schultz (Kenwood Elementary). For resources to teach social skills, self-regulations and conflict resolution.

Magnetic letters for small reading groups

Kimberly Skelton (Robeson Elementary). For word kits and letter trays during guided reading.

Reaching out to seniors through actions

Karen Snook (ACTIONS). For supplies so students can create Thanksgiving place mats and centerpieces for local nursing home/retirement center.

STEAM meets kinesthetic classroom

Noelle Stinson (Carrie Busey Elementary). For books that feature diverse characters who reflect students.

P-cubed pen pal project

Kara Tanaka (Kenwood Elementary). For mailboxes, stationery and writing supplies to encourage pen pals between students of different grade levels.

Music for all

Meagan Tipton (Wiley, Thomas Paine and Yankee Ridge Elementary). For replacing percussion instruments and purchasing ribbons and scarves to promote movement to music.

In sync

Angela Wyatt (Thomas Paine Elementary). For increasing the inventory of tap shoes.

Sensory interventions

Nancy Yeagle (Urbana district). For increasing supplies needed to implement sensory interventions.

Headphones for all

Jennifer Yoo (Carrie Busey Elementary). For headphones and earbuds for classroom use.

Take-home books

Tiffany Jon (King Elementary), Ann Ramirez and Morgan (Bottenfield Elementary). For purchasing take-home books.

Gift of music, Champaign

Opera for the Young

Sarah Madden (Robeson Elementary). The company Opera for the Young will visit and help prepare students for a participatory performance of "Rusalka."

Composing with the Classics

Karinsa Moline, Amber Owens (South Side Elementary). Noteflight accounts will be purchased, allowing students to compose with Chromebooks.

Gift for fine arts, Urbana

Sousa at School

April Blacker (Yankee Ridge, Leal Elementary). Experts from the UI's Sousa Archives will give four presentations to students in grades 2-5 on John Phillip Sousa's area connection.

Havana Hop

Cara Maurizi (King Elementary). Students will attend a performance of "Havana Hop" at Krannert.


Maurizi (King). Students will attend a performance of "LaBelle" at Krannert.

Unique Creek

Martha Churukian (Thomas Paine, Yankee Ridge Elementary). Funds will go toward special paints, with each student at Thomas Paine painting a rock to reflect their own uniqueness and placing it in the school's new sensory garden.

Behind the Scenes at KCPA

Churukian (Thomas Paine, Yankee Ridge). All fifth-graders will take a backstage tour of Krannert.

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