The Foundation’s Excel Grant program was created to support classroom innovation throughout Highline Public Schools and to provide teachers resources they need to help students be successful. Some of the Excel Grants were given out via the Foundation’s “Prize Patrol” — surprise visits by Foundation Trustees to staff meetings, classrooms and assemblies during which the checks were presented to excited and deserving district staff. Photos can be found on the Foundation’s Facebook page (facebook.com/HighlineSchoolsFoundation)
2017-2018 Funded Grants
Big Picture Schools
Big Picture Bike Apprenticeship
Joshua Medaris, Middle School Teacher
Students will become bike mechanic apprentices and spend every Friday practicing the skills and techniques learned from their monthly work with Bike Works Seattle. Learning focuses on bicycle engineering and mechanics, maintenance, safety and advocacy. Students will cap the experience by hosting an event at a neighboring elementary school where they will share their skills and knowledge.
Bow Lake Elementary
Playing to Learn in Kindergarten
Helen Cantero, Kindergarten Teacher
Play is so important in kindergarten to help students develop social and language skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. However, it doesn’t come easily to all students. Having games, like Go Fish, Candyland, and Chutes and Ladders will allow me to teach social skills to students and build a close relationship with them in the process.
World Drumming for All!
Emily Black, K-6 General Music Teacher
Group drumming is essential for a rich and diverse music program. Funds from this grant will allow equitable access to group drumming for my elementary students and provide culturally authentic experiences in music making from around the world. Funds from this grant allow students to learn drum techniques, share improvised solos, engage in small group composition, perform in percussion ensemble, and play with families in drum circles at school events.
Des Moines Elementary
Broadening our Knowledge of Native American Cultures and Traditions
Kevin Garber, 3rd Grade Teacher
Des Moines Elementary 3rd graders are developing their research reading and writing skills through the lens of the different and diverse cultures among the many First nations of North America with newly updated books provided by the Highline Schools Foundation.
Evergreen High School
Counseling Department Supporting Kids Through Technology
Rachel Kerr, School Counselor
Counselors would use the tablets to demonstrate tools students can use at home or on their phones, for staying organized, for managing difficult emotions, for clarifying goals, for accessing academic resources, and other valuable uses. Also, just like in the classroom, access to technology in the counseling office provides students with powerful resources to support them in their academic success, social skill development, and emotional health. Counselors would tap into these resources during one-on-one sessions as well as classroom guidance presentations increasing their student impact.
Video modeling equipment for social language learning
Marissa Uchima, Speech Pathologist
I would like a video camera as a video modeling tool for students with autism, as a form of video documentation of non-verbal students transitioning to a new school/teacher, and as an introduction to teachers/helpers for incoming students to Evergreen High School in Special Education programs. I hope that having access to this tool will help students feel more confident in their social interaction and behavior skills, help staff feel more confident in communicating with non-verbal students, and for new students to feel more calm and comfortable in their new environment.
Gregory Heights Elementary
Fun Recess Options for Our Kids
Michael Bento, Librarian
This grant will help us on our path to make the Gregory Heights Library an interesting and inviting place for all our students, families and staff. It will provide us with several creative, hands-on activities for kids to use before school and during recesses.
Ensuring equitable access to Assistive Technology for students with disabilities
Angela Rhodes, Occupational Therapist
It is my vision that students with disabilities be empowered to generate written communication through the use of a computer with assistive technology, just as their non-disabled peers are empowered to use a computer. Helping students to be successful computer users for written communication is essential in today’s society, and aligns with the district’s strategic plan. Please help provide equitable computer use and access by funding this grant.
Hazel Valley Elementary
WWII Japanese Internment, Live!
Jenny Haaland, 4th Grade Teacher
Our 4th graders will witness the story of 12-year-old Ben Uchida, a Japanese-American boy whose life is changed forever following the World War II attack on Pearl Harbor due to the Japanese Internment. The Seattle Children’s theater is providing a bold, honest narratives to students, aiming to inspire empathy and compassion. We will explore and honor the past as we prepare for the future.
The Butterfly Scientists of 2nd Grade!
Amber Swim, 2nd/3rd Grade Teacher
We are excited to prepare our students for college and career in the 21st century by giving them learning experiences that develop their inquisitiveness, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. We will give students the opportunities to develop these essential skills through the observation of the butterfly life cycle in our classroom and the observation of butterflies in their natural habitat at the Pacific Science Center.
Movement and Literacy
Miriam Yovetich, Physical Therapist
By blending together academics and physical activity into a program that is designed to educate the whole child — body and mind.
Using planned and coordinated lessons, emerging learners begin to comprehend health habits, fitness concepts, and nutrition content as well as academic skills in literacy and math while engaging in fun activities, intentional fitness and motor skill development.
The intention is to close development gaps by enhancing whole-brain learning and accessing specific parts of the brain.
Teaching Character Qualities and Social Skills through Purposeful Play
Melissa Cook, 2nd Grade Teacher
“Play is the work of the child,” wrote Maria Montessori. Through play students learn the lessons of childhood that determine the success of the rest of their lives—they learn to overcome challenges, to work together to make plans and solve problems, to create, to interact with each other respectfully. Year after year, these are the lessons that my young students need most, and research overwhelmingly shows that play is where these lessons will be learned. I am requesting funds to purchase play materials that my students will use to learn, explore, create, and persevere.
Highline High School
Bilingual Shakespeare Experience
Ali Morgan, Language Arts Teacher
We are bringing Seattle Shakespeare Company’s bilingual production of Twelfth Night to Highline High School! After studying the play, our 9th and 10th grade students will get to see it performed by a diverse cast of professional actors.
Fetal Pig Dissection
Andrea Kunkle, Science Teacher
Biology students at Highline High School need a chance to dissect organisms as part of a comprehensive course in biology. They will be able to dissect the pigs in small groups so each student gets a hands-on experience. The ability to see differences between actual organs and anatomical pictures is critical to their understanding of body systems. This opportunity is often the most memorable part of biology class, and even the entire high school science experience.
Molecular modeling kits to support science students
David Swart, Science Teacher
We anticipate a cohort of 600 chemistry students next school year at HHS. The science department hopes to finance our acquisition of key learning materials to support the increased demand. Chemistry can be quite abstract for many students who learn best through manipulatives. With the modeling kits, students will literally hold a physical representation (3D) of a molecule that is often depicted in print in two dimensions. Understanding how atoms bond into molecules and appreciating how the structure of a molecule affects its function is a key learning object of chemistry and biology.
Owl Pellet Investigation
Terre Salzer, Librarian
Sixth grade students will learn about the Barn Owl, its’ habitat and the food chain, by dissecting an owl pellet (the regurgitated material that owls don’t digest). I have a stuffed Barn Owl that I will use to introduce the students to the owl, and discover the specific adaptations that they have. Dissecting the pellets takes the lesson one step further, allowing them to discover what the owl ate, by reconstructing the skeleton from fragments found in the pellet.
Lunch Buddy Program
Shawn Holter, Para Educator
The Marvista Lunch Buddy program is a wonderful opportunity for students and community volunteers to develop friendships over time. Buddies meet weekly throughout the year to have lunch, play games, build crafts and most importantly, enjoy one another’s company. Participating students reap many benefits from this special time as do the adult volunteers.
McMicken Heights Elementary
Apple iPad 32 GB for students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities
Spencer Flanagan, EBC Teacher
I am requesting enough funding to to add one additional iPad to my self-contained Special Education EBC classroom to help support student learning, help encourage positive behaviors (by acting as a motivator for students), and to help with some of my behavioral data collection to track student progress towards IEP goals.
Best Book Clubs Ever!
Vivienne Vitalich, Librarian
This grant funds McMicken Heights Elementary School’s Guided Reading instruction. It provides some of the best written, most relevant, most engaging, and most recent literature for students to read at exactly their reading level! This provides for books with very diverse main characters, books with themes of racism, equality, poverty, and accepting differences. This grant helps every 3rd-6th grader in our school improve their reading this year and for years to come!
Boards to prevent boredom!
Dawn Elwell, Kindergarten Teacher
Learning in kindergarten is hands on! A class set of whiteboards will provide an avenue for immediate student engagement during lessons and an easy way for the teacher to scan the room to check student understanding. Clipboards will allow us to take our learning “on the go” whether it be outside for science observations or throughout the classroom for various stations.
Art With Heart – Therapeutic Support for Children and Teens Experiencing Grief & Trauma
Jayna Otonicar, EBC School Social Worker
This project utilizes therapeutic art workbooks and journals from “Art with Heart” to help meet the emotional and mental health needs of students who have, or who are, experiencing grief, trauma and/or chronic stress. By addressing the issues students are facing in a safe and therapeutic way, we can help mediate the risk of negative social and academic outcomes. Building safe, pro-social relationships with students and providing them with language and tools to express and cope with their stress and/or trauma can help build resiliency and improve social, emotional and academic functioning.
Books on Wheels
Nancy Sperlich, Library Assistant
Grant will allow us money to buy rolling Ikea carts for transporting Library books to and from classrooms. Rolling cart method is safer for books and Students/Teachers, than using our old method of laundry baskets. Grant will impact 356 Students and 15 Teachers. Thank you.
Mount Rainier High School
Civic Action Game!
Stephanie Nelson, History Teacher
https://www.politicraft.org/ is an action civics card game that helps students participate and learn. It is aligned to the C3 standards which are the standards for Social Studies and History.
Equitable Access to bathrooms at MRHS
Stefanie Skiljan, classroom teacher
In order to create a safe, welcoming school for our LGBTQ+ students, students and staff at MRHS will make 4 staff restrooms gender inclusive. These restrooms will be used by staff and students with an access code. This project has been initiated and led by LGBTQ+ students who are advocating for their own sense of well-being. We hope this change can foster a sense of belonging for LGBTQ+ students and staff and make their presence at MRHS more visible.
Mount View Elementary
On the Move at Mount View! Bikes and Trikes for Preschool Learners
Ashley Andrews, Occupational Therapist
We are asking for your help to purchase a set of tricycles, push bikes and helmets for students in the Developmental Preschool program at Mount View Elementary. Push bikes and tricycles provide a rich developmental experience for young children. We want to give our kids every opportunity to have the healthy fun that all children deserve, and this grant would make that possible.
Windows and Mirrors: Books that are culturally diverse
Trina Samson, Library Media Specialist
It is important that children have books about people like themselves. Whether it be someone with their same skin color, or traditions, or lifestyles, finding someone like you in a story shows you are valued. Our students need to have books that reflect their cultures to validate themselves and so others can learn about their cultures too.
Meeting the Needs of All Spanish Learners!
Cynthia Kniffin, ELL/DL Facilitator
This project provides low-level Spanish books, picture dictionaries, and graphic organizers for the unique needs of Spanish language learners in primary Dual Language classrooms.
A Listening Center for Big Kids!
Maci Greene, 6th Grade Dual Language Teacher
This project creates a listening center for a sixth grade classroom that will allow all students to have audio support for authentic grade level texts in English and Spanish.
North Hill Elementary
Building for Brain Power
Amanda Skey, Teacher
The purchase of 2 sets of Magformers building materials for my Kindergarten students will enrich the important work of building hypotheses, thinking of alternative solutions and increasing executive function skills, all while engaged in play!
A Real Author Is Coming to School!
Sherry Edwards, Classroom teacher–Reading
Author Jim Whiting will give a presentation to each of my three Reading classes–demonstrating that true stories can be just as fascinating as their fiction counterparts, showing how books are printed, and explaining how rough drafts can be cleverly edited in the Writing process. In addition, he gathers student writers during a working lunch who have previously submitted their work to him to give feedback about the strengths of their writing.
Pacific Middle School
Easels for AVID
Claudia House, AVID/Health/PE teacher
AVID students at Pacific Middle School need easels for their weekly tutorials in their AVID elective class. They work in groups of 7-8 students on an inquiry based collaborative process to gain deeper understanding of concepts covered in core content classes.
The Timbre is the Trick (new percussion tambourine, timpani mallets and trombone mouthpieces)
Jeffrey Steen, Music teacher
Pacific Middle School band program is in need of a new concert tambourine, new timpani mallets and new trombone mouthpieces. With a successful grant the Pacific Band program will shine it’s performances this year with a great new sound from new equipment.
Exploring Etiquette: Manners When We Need Them!
Christie Brown, 6th grade teacher
The unit on manners began as a to help navigate new situations and new people at Waskowitz Outdoor School. The culmination of a unit, the 6th grade class will enjoy a luncheon to practice what they have learned served by Culinary Arts students at the Puget Sound Skills Center. Students are learning about etiquette including proper ways to answer phones, respond to questions and make polite conversation, learn how to make introductions, use traditional American table manners, write thank you notes, and use neat handwriting.
Southern Heights Elementary
Wiggle While You Work
Jennifer Matthews, First Grade Teacher
More and more kids are needing to move while they work. These stools will allow for my students to wiggle while they work without being a distraction to those around them. This will increase their ability to focus and be more productive in the classroom.
Sylvester Middle School
8th Grade Action News!
Christopher Carlyle, 8th Grade Language Arts Teacher
Students in 8th grade Language Arts will write, produce, film and present news casts about events in and around the school. This project will be primarily student-led, with students acting and writers, directors, producers and news casters.
Tyee High School
Three-dimensional models for putting science in students’ hands
Joseph Thomas, Science teacher
This project will involve using molecular model kits to illustrate a variety of concepts within biology and chemistry. Atoms and molecules are incredibly small, and their behavior takes place on a scale that is fascinating precisely because of how unbelievable it is. By utilizing these model kits, students can participate in activities that engage them differently: they can use their hands to construct a physical representation of something that is normally kept on paper or the computer screen, and use this to build a more robust understanding of the physical world.
Hot plates and triple beam balances for increased laboratory learning opportunities at Tyee
Alison Thomas, Teacher
As student enrollment in Tyee’s science courses grows, new laboratory equipment is needed to offer students engaging hands-on opportunities to learn science. Hot plates and triple beam balances are two types of equipment used in many laboratory investigations. Greater access to this equipment will substantially increase the laboratory learning opportunities available to students, allowing greater access to science content and laboratory techniques.