What do Choral, Cooking and Wiggling Have in Common?

Excel Grants! Great teachers are always looking for new ways to engage students and the Foundation is proud to partner with Highline teachers, counselors, librarians, and staff to fund a wide variety of programs, both in-class and extracurricular, that have a lasting and positive impact on students. Excel Grants may fund a variety of things – including books, musical instruments, field trips, college campus tours, art, science, health/wellness, and so much more.

The Foundation awarded $100,500 in Excel Grants grants to teachers and staff in support of Highline Public Schools this school year and final reports have started arriving. You can find a complete list of all awarded grants on our website under the “Grants/Grant History Tab” (2017-2018 Funded Grants).

Below are the first of many final reports from teachers updating us on their grants.

  • Choral Clinic with a Professional at Mount Rainier High School with Luke Stromberg
  • Cooking Essentials at Tyee High School with Linda Lambert
  • Wiggle While You Work at Southern Heights Elementary with Jennifer Matthews

We’ll share more stories here as they arrive, and on Facebook and Twitter.


Choral Clinic with a Professional at Mount Rainier High School

Choral Clinic with a Professional

Students were amazed by the sound that was created when all vowels matched in each voice section. One of the philosophies of Dr. Pierson that stuck with the students is the idea of face before space, space before breath, breath before sound. ~ Luke Stromberg

Original project description: We will hire Dr. Brad Pierson, the director of choirs at the University of Toledo in Ohio, who will be visiting Seattle during the second week of January, to come in to each choir class and use the class period to give a clinic with each choir to work on various choir skills, learn new rehearsal techniques, and learn more about the anatomy and science of the voice.

What makes this project innovated or essential? Students regularly get to hear from ME about choral techniques, voice skills, etc., but rarely do they get to hear from other choir conductors or choral professionals. It will be an invaluable experience for building on the concepts we’ve learned first semester, going into the competition season, to hear from a different choir director about what they need to do to improve their sound and their individual vocal skills.

How will the students benefit from this project? The students will prepare for the guest conductor the day beforehand, and we will debrief the experience afterward, taking in all of the new concepts and ideas, continuing to use the ones we liked or found effective, and debating some of the things we heard and learned when Dr. Pierson led the class.

Success! We successfully funded three clinics with Dr. Brad Pierson from the University of Toledo. He gave great workshops with all the choirs, giving helpful new ideas about tone, vowel placement, movement and gesture. Students wrote that they were impressed with him, and never knew that their group could sound the way it did when he was working with them. Students were amazed by the sound that was created when all vowels matched in each voice section. One of the philosophies of Dr. Pierson that stuck with the students is the idea of face before space, space before breath, breath before sound.”  ~ Luke Stromberg


Cooking Essentials - FreeStanding Gas RangeCooking Essentials at Tyee High School

Original project description: Through out the week students from the ILC classes and other special education programs on our campus use our kitchen to learn cooking skills. These cooking skills can then transfer either into a job skill or a life skill to become more independent. Recently the glass on our range was broken so we can no longer use the oven portion. The money from this grant would allow us to get a new range and continue being able to teach our students cooking skills.

What makes this project innovated or essential? This grant request is essential because as of right now the gas oven in our kitchen is broken and we’re unable to teach students cooking skills using the oven which in turn decreases their independence. General education classes and clubs also use the kitchen to make items for the Holiday Bazaar and other fundraising activities. Without an oven they wouldn’t be able to follow the districts policy that all handmade food is made on school campus.

How will the students benefit from this project? Students will benefit by having a working oven to build independence and increase their cooking skills. We will also use the range to teach students safety in the kitchen, math skills, and strengthen communication skills and collaboration with others.

Success!  “We were able to buy a new oven. Yeah!!! We’re now able to cook and share the kitchen with other clubs and programs on our campus. Thank you so much. This grant has made a difference because after we went to small schools, the home ec. rooms were taken apart. The kitchen in the ILC program is the only kitchen on campus where students can learn cooking. Just last week we had not only our 2 ILC classes cooking, but also the band and Pacific Islander Club used it for making items to sell in the holiday bazaar.” ~ Linda Lambert


Wiggle While You Work at Southern Heights Elementary

Wiggle While You Work

It has really helped some kids be able to focus better while they are learning. I have even had a few parents thank me because they say their kid really feels better when they get to sit on the stools. ~ Jennifer Matthews

Original project description: These wobble stools would be used for those students who are struggling to sit still while they work. I seem to get more students each year who struggle with staying focused on their work because their bodies need to move. I have seen other teachers use these and they say that they make a world of difference. The student is able to move appropriately while being able to focus better on the task at hand and is more productive.

When reading teacher blogs and trying to research how to help kids that constantly need to move, these stools kept appearing on different articles and blogs that I was reading. They are becoming more and more common in the classroom and they are making a difference for the kids who need them.  This is important for me because I want to do all that I can do to help these kids be successful in our classroom. I know that they struggle and I want to get them the resources they need. These stools will be able to be used for years and help many students.

What makes this project innovated or essential? This project is essential because I have some many students that struggle to sit still this year. They are constantly getting up and down out of their chairs and moving around. This is very distracting to those around them and the student as well as their classmates are not able to focus and get their work done. These stools are needed for so many students, I can’t personally afford to get them for my class but I know many other teachers that use them and don’t know what they did without them before.

How will students benefit? The students will benefit from these stools because they will be able to move like their bodies want but in an appropriate way. That will help them be able to focus on the work they are doing without being distracting to those around them. When they are able to listen to instruction, they will be able to complete their work and be more successful in and out of the classroom.

Success! “I was able to purchase 5 Kore Wobble stools for the students in our class. Yes I accomplished exactly what was in my proposal. I decided to buy one stool that was a little bit taller so a bigger student could feel more comfortable. I think it was a good choice. It cost a little bit more but well worth it. It has really helped some kids be able to focus better while they are learning. I have even had a few parents thank me because they say their kid really feels better when they get to sit on the stools. The stools are very mobile so that move them around depending on where they need to be. The kids have been very respectful and responsible on these stools. I am very grateful to have them in my class for years to come.” ~ Jennifer Matthews


BONUS – Watch for more about this grant soon!

Since 1999, the Highline Schools Foundation has been supporting innovation and excellence in Highline Public Schools. Our funding priorities focus on programs to improve academic achievement, supporting college and career readiness, grants to teachers for engaging classroom projects, the arts, athletics, and programs that keep students in school and productive. Highline is a district full of need and opportunity. The Highline Schools Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to all schools in our district—our goal is to help as many students as possible be successful!

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