This February the Hood River County Education Foundation awarded a record $56,770 to innovative projects across the district as part of our annual Impact Teaching Grants program. The foundation funded 30 grant proposals from HRCSD teachers, staff, and students, with every school in the district receiving at least one grant.
In addition to purchasing new Spanish language books for elementary schools, guitars for Hood River Middle School, and decodable science books for Parkdale, the foundation also funded a variety of interactive and long-term projects. Students in plant science, welding, and food science classes at Hood River Valley High School will partner with OSU scientists to design, build, and manage a food forest on campus. At Wy’East, students will practice their public speaking skills in workshops hosted by the Oregon Children’s Theater, while students at HRMS will learn to monitor and asses air quality.
Scroll down to learn more about the 2022 Impact Teaching Grants from our applicants in their own words or click on the link skip to a specific school.
The HRCEF Impact Teaching Grants program awards funds to teachers and staff who find better ways to teach, new subjects to explore, and interesting experiments to try. The goal of the program is to provide the critical funds that will turn the best of these ideas into action. The program is open to any Hood River County School District teacher, staff, or student.
Impact Teaching Grants are funded entirely by members of the Hood River County Community. If you would like to help support the Impact Teaching Grants program, please click on the button below.
Mid Valley Elementary School
Access to Authentic Spanish Library, Amanda Orand, Bekah Galvez, Bernadita Ramos, Lauren Munk
Our plan is to purchase different series of books in Spanish at different reading levels that our students can check out and use as a library to take books home. … Our goal in choosing different series of books so that it builds background knowledge about characters. Increasing student background knowledge aides in increasing comprehension. Also, when a student likes a book and knows there are others similar to it, they are more likely to continue reading. … The best way to learn to read is through intrinsic motivation, if students have a variety of books to access in Spanish, their love of reading will grow!
Diversified Classroom Library, Veronica Sandoval, Sandra Dominguez, Jacqueline Osborne
My project is focused on increasing access to diverse literature to third grade students. The main goal of this project is to increase the number, quality, and variety of books available. … Students who can borrow books through classroom libraries, personal libraries, or other means are more motivated to read than students who don’t. Furthermore, students are more motivated to read when given choices. Literature that encompasses different reading levels, genres, and languages gives students more choice when reading. … Becoming literate and furthermore, developing a love for literacy, not only shapes the early years of individuals but also has life-long effects on their lives.
Parkdale Elementary School
Science of Reading – Decodable Books, Marika Smith
In order to give students the opportunity to practice and develop their phonological skills they need materials to practice with. The books that I will purchase will allow students to develop their love for reading as well as give them the opportunity to practice their new phonics skills. … When phonics is taught systematically and explicitly it will significantly improve students’ reading and spelling. When students are able to decode more fluently, they are able to improve their ability to comprehend because their cognitive energy is no longer focused on the skill of decoding.
Westside Elementary School
Assistive Technology Lending Library, Karen Holt & Erin Bertram
Assistive Technology (AT) helps students access their educational materials so that they can have a more equitable learning experience. AT at HRCSD can come in many forms including specialized apps for the iPad, communication devices, mobility devices, and more. … This grant would enable the Assistive Technology (AT) team to augment our lending library with some additional equipment. We would like to purchase several C-Pen Readers to use with students who have reading challenges. We will also purchase 2-3 switches for use with our students who have orthopedic impairments and speech difficulties.
Engaging Decodable Books for Older Readers, Sarah Maddox
Many struggling older elementary readers do not have access to highly engaging chapter books that are at their reading level. I would like to purchase 2 complete sets of Catch Up Readers. Catch Up Readers are age appropriate, high interest, decodable phonics books written for older readers. Exciting stories and instantly engaging illustrations will interest even the most reluctant of older readers. … The goal is for students to become better readers who want to read more.
Social Emotional Development Toolkit for Early Elementary, Sierra Fessler
I hope to offer every Westside kindergarten, first grade and second grade student opportunities to self-regulate by using a sensory-bin toolkit within their classroom. When students are able to self regulate within their classrooms, they are able to continue learning while self regulating. … The tools purchased with this grant will support every student socially and emotionally, thus improve their overall ability to learn.
Operation Keyboard – Keys to Success, Lydia Peterson, Pamela Allen-Dean, Kathy Hannen-Smith, Mike Turley, Natalie Hurley
The HRCSD Elementary Music Teachers would like our students to have access to and explore keyboard instruments. We plan to use them for all students K-5. This will give students the opportunity to play their keyboards by reading different types of music notation. The keyboards will help our students understand melody, and lead them to performing and creating (composing) on keyboards. … This project will give students the opportunity to learn an instrument that they might not have at home, while others may be inspired to continue studying and playing the piano throughout their life.
Playground Communication Board, Megan Burfield, Jody Clough, Haleigh Johnson, Suzanna Titus-Israels, Katie Stanton, Kathy Peldyak
At HRCSD, some students are unable to use verbal communication and, instead, use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Non-technology-based communication can occur in many forms such as gestures, facial expressions, utterances, and ASL (American Sign Language). … Our team would like to install 4’x3′ bilingual communication boards at each of our Elementary School playgrounds and at Wy’East Middle School. These boards will enable our students with complex communication needs, who require Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), to talk with staff/peers, and will provide opportunities for staff to model vocabulary for our AAC users. Additionally, other students who are learning to communicate will have another way to convey thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. Communication boards stimulate literacy skills by adding written and symbolated language on our playgrounds, which supports inclusion for all students.
Hood River Middle School
Air Quality Monitoring, Adam Smith & Marissa Curtis
Studying air quality is a fantastic lens through which we can engage students in not only learning about the air, but also chemistry, earth and space science, and how we can be engaged citizens. … We’d like to empower students to tell more data stories and then turn that information into real action. This requires hand-held and classroom sensors which we’re hoping this grant can allow us to purchase. … The plan is then to have students take their growing knowledge of chemistry and data and create public service announcements tailored to various stakeholders written with plain language and eventually presented to folks at OSU, Providence, and representatives from HRCSD.
Multicultural Literature Circles, Jennifer Mall, Cori Elam
We would like to expand our literature circle options for our students to include a more diverse range of novels that better represent their own experiences. The books we have chosen represent authors and characters of color as well as one LGBTQ+ novel. … Now more than ever, it is important that students read and become empathetic to a variety of perspectives. The novels will also lend themselves well to teaching literature standards, as well as collaborative discussion standards.
New Guitars for a Beginning Guitar Class at HRMS, Benjamin Tell, Grace Parson, Jenny Kelson, Maureen Wiseman
We have noticed that students have a desire to learn basic chords and are often more drawn toward guitar as a gateway into music before other more complex instruments such as piano or the brass or woodwinds. The guitar course will be in addition to our regular band course and will provide yet another opportunity for students to engage in the arts. … The grant will put guitars in the hands of students who would otherwise never be afforded the opportunity to learn an instrument. … This class also offers another avenue for students to feel connected to their school.
Wy’East Middle School
Bicycle Trainers for Large Muscle Use on Rainy & Winter Days, Elizabeth Jones
Many students who are very “high energy” are placed in this period 7 class, and with snow on the ground they have no physical activity to burn of this high energy. … Students will use the trainers to max out their heart rate, then record that. After several weeks this data is used as the basis for my teaching students how to create graphs in a Google Sheet.
Flexible Health Class Seating, Sarah Christensen
I would like to equip my health classroom with various seating options for both general instruction and independent work. I understand that a traditional layout in the classroom is not what meets every learners needs, especially for our learners who are a little more active, have a hard time focusing, or require other aspects in a physical space to be able to focus and feel safe. … A learning environment that provides choice and comfort could remove another barrier to our students accessing the information they need to feel successful in the classroom.
Library Board Games, Corinne Dichter & Shayla Moline
The purpose of this grant is to make educational board games available to students. These games will help students work on strategy, decision making and problem solving skills; memory formation and focus; collaboration and teamwork; and language development. The games selected include specific subject focuses on biology, math, geography, language arts and more. The beauty of board games is that to students they are fun. At the same time, board games create an environment where students are willing to face a challenge without the pressure of failure, which encourages growth mindset and builds confidence in students as they learn.
Oregon Children’s Theater- Loud and Clear Workshops, Quin Clarkson & Kiraney Cummins
The majority of our Reading Inspiration students are either second language learners or they have grown up in a very bilingual/biliterate environment (many educated at Mid Valley in the dual language program and therefore more comfortable with Spanish literacy and speaking at this point). Despite the strengths of their experience, and their developing proficiency in both languages, many students struggle to feel confident speaking publicly in either language. These workshops [The Loud & Clear Program, run by the Oregon Children’s Theater] will provide practice for students to express themselves in a safe space and will teach techniques for good public speaking. This experience will be beneficial for them, as it should boost confidence when it comes to contributing ideas in class, and hopefully it will also help students develop ways to express and communicate their thoughts and opinions in other contexts. There is also a component to the program that helps them with speech writing which will be useful as they move through their middle and high school career.
Reading Inspiration and ELA 8th grade Library, Sunnie Turek & Quin Clarkson
To help hook 8th graders onto reading and turn them into lifelong, curious readers, I’d like to build a library with high-interest, modern books that students can relate to and remember. Our world is changing rapidly, and students need to read books that reflect those changes. 8th grade students are becoming interested in romantic relationships, identity, ethnicity, crime, technology, and global issues. They crave books that address the topics they see around them. … As a reading teacher, my ultimate goal is to turn students into independent, lifelong readers. To do this, I need to hook students on books by introducing them to high-interest, modern topics that students can relate to.
Hood River Valley High School
Biology Magnets and Modeling, Kathryn Davis
The use of models are a powerful way for students to grasp complex biology concepts. Many biological structures are difficult for students to draw or build on their own. These biology magnets will allow students to model and understand complex topics such as biochemical reactions, photosynthesis and respiration, and cell signaling. These are all areas which are currently challenging for students. The use of models increases student questioning and the ability of teachers to identify misconceptions.
Cameras Upgrade for Multimedia Class, Carlos Mendoza & Shawn Meyle
I am a student in Mr. Meyle’s Multimedia class at Hood River Valley High School. I help take pictures and shoot video for the school. The cameras’ we are using here at the school are older and a bit behind the current technology. It would be a great benefit for the students in Mr Meyle’s classes to have access to a current professional, industry standard photography and video camera. This would also make it easier to take and shoot higher quality pictures and videos for the whole student body and staff to enjoy.
Experimental Quilt Drawing, Matthew Gerlick
I have been teaching the craft of sewing in my art class which is called Craft Lab, a contemporary student makers space where functional and creative skills mesh into Student made Works of Art and Craft. This year and in the future my art department colleagues are interested in exploring experimental drawing practices so Student Artists are enabled to explore a fuller range of art techniques, tools history, and Ideas. … I want to Purchase rotary cutters and darning feet for all the sewing machines I have in my room, which is 36 machines, one for each student. … Students will be able to use the darning feet and rotary cutters to practice new and patchwork style quilting techniques, being able to then develop these skills into future art projects, clothing designs and creative pattern drafting through their high school and future professional experiences.
Fossils, Mary Garcia
The four classroom sets of fossil specimens I am requesting for my Geology class will be able to be used year after year. Currently, our school does not have any fossil specimens and we do a unit on Paleontology that is crucial for the Geology of the Pacific Northwest class. I am hoping to be able to to get these sets so that students are able to gain a hands on experience with fossils rather than digitally. … Not only would this give them the opportunity to have a hands on experience but it will also allow students to work in groups in a collaborative effort to be able to describe the fossil record and make correlations between different types of fossils and geologic time units.
Glass Fusing, Gabrielle Iverson
I do a few ceramic projects with my Advanced Ceramics students that use glass frit melted onto ceramic. Frit is a granulated glass that is much safer to use with students as it doesn’t have sharp edges or require special ventilation to apply. … Students design and create a slab built ‘Origami Bowl’ using templates and geometry. When they glaze the bowls they add glass frit to the base of the bowl and it is melted in the kiln to create a beautiful and interesting effect. Students learn to work with mixed media and the basics of using glass with ceramic. They understand the use of templates in sizing work. They understand advanced use of slab construction to make a functional ceramic form.
Land Lab Food Forest Project, Michael Becker, Michael Ruff, Angel LeVan
The Agricultural Science Team at HRVHS along with student leaders from the FFA program are designing and installing a Perennial Food Forest system on the Land Lab at HRVHS. A Food Forest mimics the stable structure of native forests but replaces native species with food, fiber, and other beneficial species that are productive towards agricultural production. Working with OSU Extension Scientists, The Ag Science Program at HRV is working on developing agricultural models that require less inputs of fertilizer and chemical pesticides due to leveraging beneficial relationships between plants and soils. … The Ag Science team is seeking these funds for a collaborative cross-platform student experience. Using 6 different classes students will be a part of the project from a variety of skills and outcomes We have three main areas of focus each supervised by a separate teacher. each part of the process is key to program success. Many students take classes in multiple areas and will learn many different skills needed to start their own small agricultural business.
Mind -Body Connection Class, Emily Martin
Each trimester I teach a course called Mind-Body Connection. It is an elective class that is always totally packed (greater than 30 per class) and part of the Health Sciences C.T.E. program In this class students learn to take care of their energetic, physical, mental and emotional health to become the best possible versions of themselves. As part of our ongoing health journey, we practice awakening our senses in nature. We often walk on the Indian Creek trail and bring notebooks outside to journal, observe, and draw. I would like to offer watercolor supplies to my students. I have the paints, but not the paper, hence the request for watercolor paper and journals. In addition, we have natural medicine practitioners who visit the class regularly. I would like to be able to make a simple herbal lotion with the students to enhance the hands-on portion the class. … With natural medicine, we can actually create something (lotion) in the classroom which is hands-on, fun, and healing for the students.
Overview of Speciation and Evolution of Hominid using Skull Models, Amy Foley
Learning about human evolution has always sparked interest in our Biology students. They are unusually rapt while learning the adaptations of our skeletons and skulls that allow humans to walk upright. Currently, when learning about our hominid ancestors, we are limited to 2D images/computer models. We would like to purchase physical models of hominid skulls so students can apply their curiosity to other species such as Homo neanderthalensis. As we all have experienced over the pandemic, nothing replaces hands on learning in the science classroom. These 3D models will allow students to touch, measure and compare multiple hominid species. … The purpose of the activity is for students to discover for themselves what some of the similarities and differences are that exist between these forms, and to see the pattern of the gradual accumulation of traits over time, leading to modern humans.
Social Emotional Learning, Mary Garcia
My idea for this request is to purchase games that promote social skills and social emotional learning for teenagers at the beginning of high school. These specific games are used by therapists, school counselors, social workers and teachers as a way to actively engage learners in a differentiated way of learning. … The Game Card Decks are written by mental health professionals for individual and group clinical use and are meant to build rapport, develop social skills, improve self-confidence, promote mindfulness and critical thinking for students ages 13 and up. The games include questions regarding self-care, empathy, living in the present, emotions/thoughts/coping strategies, strengthening resilience, mental health and relationships which is built in the the 9th grade success curriculum.
The Future is Inclusive, Brent Emmons, Shawnie Emmons, Becky Franks, Daniel Clute, Lindsay Roselle, Chris Golz
“The Future is Inclusive” grant concept is focused on improving the culture of Hood River Valley High School for students experiencing disability. We are committed to creating a culture where all people are accepted and celebrated. The grant will focus on awareness, visibility, and acceptance. The Future is Inclusive Grant will have three major components:
- Celebration of National Disabilities Awareness Month
- Staff Recognition – Case managers
- Humanizing the IEP/504 Meeting Process
Hood River Options Academy
Community Art, Sarah Lyon
Hood River Options Academy is a unique mix of diverse students who work independently and rarely have the opportunity to showcase their artistic and creative talents beyond our hallway walls. My proposal is to install a “Little Free Gallery” in front of our school that will highlight student artists throughout the year and connect with the community by sharing a piece of student made art in the form of a postcard, sticker, magnet, button, or other small token. Hood River Options Academy has been slowly building an art program for the past few years and continues to do so. … Student artists in our program are emerging and there is an exciting opportunity to take their work and share it with the community. The HROA Little Free Gallery would be one bridge to make that connection; a way for students to share their story and empower their voice.
HROA PE Equipment, Scott Walker & Carly Borton
The grant money will be used to buy dumbbells: 5 sets 5lb, 5 sets 8 lbs, 5 sets 10 lbs, bands, gliders, small exercise balls, yoga mats, and BOSU balls. The objective is to help students have healthier bodies to improve their academic progress and focus.
HROA Student Library, Emily Kohner, Kerri Convery, Scott Walker, Lisa Abrecht
The Hood River Options Academy doesn’t have a student library. … We want to have a high quality library with books that will cover a diverse range of topics. We choose to use the list published by the Oregon Battle of the Books program. They assemble a high-quality list of books at the 3-5, 6-8th, and 9-12th grade bands. We will end up with around 20-24 book in each grade band. These books are chosen to appeal to a wide range of students and cover a diversity of genres and topics. We know that one of the best ways for students to gain reading skills is to have the opportunity to choose their own books and be guided by their own interests and preferences. All of the students at HROA are expected to do independent reading. We want students to have easy access to books that are appealing. Our students don’t have easy access to non digital books. This grant is our first step towards creating a school-wide library.