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December 24, 2008 > Santa awards grants to teachers

Santa awards grants to teachers

Submitted By Rick LaPlante

Santa and Mrs. Claus visited teachers throughout the New Haven Unified School District today, sharing more than $6,000 worth of classroom grants awarded through the New Haven Schools Foundation's "Innovations in Education" program, for special projects that promote learning.

The Foundation, in the fourth year of its classroom grant program, received applications this year for 34 projects representing the efforts of 37 teachers, from kindergarten through high school. Teachers could apply for up to $500 per project. In addition, the District's Health Education and Resource Team (HEART) accepted applications for $200 grants, for projects promoting a healthy lifestyle.

A total of 15 projects were selected, including three involving two teachers each. Of those, 17 teachers received their awards today when Santa and Mrs. Claus toured the schools - accompanied by Foundation, HEART and District leaders - to surprise the teachers in front of their students. The Foundation funded 11 projects and shared funding with HEART on two others. HEART independently funded another project.

The 15th project is a new award, the Brian Kelly Memorial, funded by family and friends of a former District student. It will be presented in January. In addition, Board of Education member Kevin Harper will select a project that he will independently fund, for the fourth year in a row. The Kelly and Harper awards will push this year's total to more than $7,000.

When all of this year's awards have been presented, a total of 65 New Haven teachers will have received more than $23,000 for projects that directly impact instruction since the program was started during the 2005-06 school year.

This year's Foundation recipients and their schools and projects: Sky Baumbach (Eastin Elementary), Reading Workshop Classroom Library; Beckie Cheung (Pioneer Elementary), Room 35 Rocks!; Ashley Cortis (James Logan High), Making Reading for Pleasure Accessible; Linda Kemp and Beth Morris-Wong (Hillview Crest Elementary), Literacy Learning Through Puppetry; Laurie Koehler (Alvarado Elementary), Writing Workshop Enrichment ; Sheryl Larson (Conley-Caraballo High), "Hamlet" for Modern Students; Nelly Marquez and Irma Navarro (Cesar Chavez Middle), ELD Document Camera; Abigail Noche (James Logan High), Bringing AP Biology Into the 21st Century; Cathy Staib (James Logan High), Hands-On Math; Linda Thomas (Conley-Carabllo High), Memorial Community Garden Project; Colleen Sonier (Searles Elementary), Software 4 Kids.

Foundation/HEART awards: Renee Dutra (Eastin and Pioneer elementaries), Breathe to Succeed; Sara Husokowski and Erica Sims-Vinas (Searles Elementary), Yoga Kids Tools for Schools: Breathe Life Into Learning.

HEART award: Cherie Barnecut (Kitayama Elementary), Harvest of the Month: Cooking & Tasting. Brian Kelly Memorial: Trish Tripepi (James Logan High School) Field Trip to Expression College for Digital Arts.

Anyone interested in sponsoring classroom grants or contributing to any of the Foundation's other programs - including college scholarships and co-curricular and extra-curricular support - can contact Executive Director Barbara Aro-Valle by phone (471-3850) or e-mail ( New Haven employees can contribute to the Foundation through payroll deductions by contacting Rick La Plante (471-1100, ext. 2310 or

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