Past Grant Recipients

About MEF Classroom Grants

Every year, the Missoula Education Foundation awards teachers in MCPS funds to develop unique ideas and projects for their classrooms. These projects promote engagement, enhance the student experience, and provide vibrant learning opportunities. In 2019-2020, MEF surpassed $200,000 in funding made available to MCPS teachers.

Classroom Grant Past Recipients

Classroom Grants 2018-2019

Lewis Nelson, Sentinel High School – Replace 50-year old Mouthpieces with New Ones – Students at Sentinel High School were playing on gear that was original to the school, from 1957.  With not enough money in the regular budget to replace the old equipment, and a trip to Carnegie Hall looming, the Missoula Education Foundation funded nearly $4,000 in new equipment. The band is now able to play on the new equipment with confidence in their sound. These mouthpieces will last for years to come, and will have a lasting impact on student excitement and engagement in the musical curriculum at Sentinel High School.

Shirley Lindburg, All Schools – Building Bridges with Books! – Missoula has recently been identified as a refugee resettlement community, and in the last year and a half, MSPS has enrolled over 30 refugee youths. More are incoming every month. The children that arrive in Missoula’s classrooms from unimaginable circumstances abroad face the challenge of learning English in order to thrive in school, and build relationships with their peers, teachers, tutors, and others. Missoula Education Foundation is funding dual-language books to help accomplish this. Dual language books help support literacy development, and promote success in learning and in life.

Jesse Dochnahl, Big Sky High School – Band Music by Underrepresented Composers – The purpose of the Music by Underrepresented Musicians project is to acquire, study, practice, and perform music that is composed by historically marginalized artists, including women and people of color. Teacher Jesse Dochnahl asks, “Imagine how it feels to be a young music student in a band class that never performs music written by someone that looks like you?” In order to better represent the diversity of current and future music students, this project introduces students to composers that intersect with their own identities, and approaches music from a variety of inclusive perspectives and human experiences.

Leslie Snoke, C.S. Porter Middle School Technology in Art: Embracing the Future – In order to fully implement the shift from primarily creating to connecting and responding in the newly adopted Visual arts curriculum, the foundation provided a new set of tablets for students to practice and apply skills. This classroom resource will allow students to create digital portfolios where they record and document learning, as well as readily access contemporary and historical visual art collections online in museums, galleries and artist websites. Students can travel the globe virtually and discover a dynamic and interactive world of visual art that encourages participation and production of online content rather than merely consuming information through passive observation.

Kammy K. Meyers, C.S. Porter Middle School – School-wide Literacy Framework – “Our school will adopt a school-wide literacy framework for the school-year of 2018-2019. All students will be engaged in a literacy framework that involves three main components: Modeled teacher Read-Aloud with a focus on comprehension strategies, Student-choice Independent Reading or Small-Group Book Clubs, and Word Work with a focus on vocabulary and Greek and Latin roots.” The goal for this project is not only to increase reading achievement, but also to foster a community of life-long readers. Ms. Meyers hopes to ignite a passion for reading in everyone involved, including staff, students, and community stake-holders.

Alexandria Uerling, Cold Springs Elementary School – Increasing Attitudes and Perceptions of Scientists – Studies have shown reading literature about scientists, visiting scientists, and hands-on learning are beneficial in increasing perceptions. Education advocate Donna Farland’s (2006) research suggests exposing students to non-fiction literature about scientists positively increases students perceptions of scientists and science. This project will provide a collection of vetted non-fiction literature about scientists to expose students to positive and diverse views of who scientists are and the work they do.

Debbie Hendricks, Hellgate High School Julius Caesar–Military Genius – The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman has a special exhibit from Florence, Italy on Julius Caesar titled “Military Genius and Mighty Machines.”  Included in this exhibit are recreated artwork and frescoes, recreated models to scale, and over 50 interactive machines. Students will  see/touch/interact with the life, culture and engineering genius of the Roman Empire, 2000 years ago.  This is a way to bring Italy and the past to Montana students.

Linsey Myers, Lewis and Clark Elementary – Lewis & Clark Mountain Mastery Team – Educators at Lewis and Clark have been developing a rock climbing team to help students succeed in school by learning leadership skills. Student who would benefit from building confidence, learning a new skill, learning to work through challenges, participating on a team, being encouraged to be a leader, learning to take risks will benefit from the rock wall. Student will also have 1:1 positive attention from adults and will develop life success strategies through the practice of rock climbing. Practicing these skills on the rock wall helps students generalize the same skills to the classroom, and to life. Students are gaining pride, confidence, and a sense of belonging at school.

Tanya Johnson, Lowell Elementary – Bringing Science to Life – These are lab materials to bring the NGSS standards to life.  Students will be focusing on the solar system, on matter and elements.  The materials will be used so students can be scientists in the classroom, observing for themselves various phenomenons as we experiment and observe.  Through inquiry based instruction, students will be able conduct hands on experiences that help them understand the content: this is learning “beyond the textbook” where students will be able to apply learning to actual experiments and materials.

Kimberly Olson, Paxson Elementary – Next Generation Science Through the Seasons – Foundation funds will supply 5th graders with the necessary equipment and scientific know-how to conduct multiple trials of fun experiments, and expand NGSS classroom experiences to include year-long monitoring projects in the outdoors.

Daniel Lande, Sentinel High School – Unleashing Creativity with Laser Cutting and Engraving – A laser cutter/engraver is a key component in the fabrication lab or makerspace. In fact, to achieve MIT’s Fab Lab designation, it is a required tool. The number of things that can be created using a laser cutter is limited only by one’s imagination. Being able to have one accessible to our STEM programs would untether student potential and allow them to unleash their inner maker, artist, and designer.

Lori Ann Lynch and Jay Anderson, Washington Middle School –  Winter Ecology This program is designed to help students understand the challenges that winter presents to plants, animals, and human communities.  Through this outdoor, hands-on educational curriculum, students will engage in STEM related activities such as how water cycles through Earth’s systems, what the snowpack patterns for the Missoula area are, and the long-term climate patterns for our region.  With the use of snowshoes, students will be able to access where snowpack levels are more prominent and can be measured accurately.

Joanne Boyles, Wilard High School –  Breakout EDU kit – Students will use logic and reasoning skills to solve subject based clues provided as part of the Breakout EDU classroom kit. This kind of activity reinforces the practical applications of lessons and subject matter, and draws students in to the relevancy of classroom learning. Purchasing extra platform access licenses will allow this project to run for 5 years in Joanne Boyles’ classroom, benefitting many students over the course of years.

Classroom Grants 2017-2018

Noel Nesmith: Breakout Boxes Teachers are constantly searching for ways to make content meaningful and engaging in an ever-changing world. Students often struggle with connecting what they learn in school to their everyday lives. Breakout boxes are an exciting way to bridge this gap. Students build their communication and leadership skills while using problem solving and teamwork to achieve a common goal. Students will use the Algebra 1 and Geometry content that they have learned to solve the steps in each box. After completing one box, they will attempt other boxes and in the end, take the next step of creating their own. Breakout boxes create an avenue for math practice and application of content knowledge in an exciting and meaningful way.

Scott Edge: Raspberry Pi for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner?! The field of Computer Science has been growing exponentially every year. In fact, it is so popular that major CS Companies like Google require every employee whether computer scientist or not, to become fluent in at least one programming language. In order to fuel the demand of computer science, it is necessary to introduce programming to students at an early age. Raspberry Pi hardware is a terrific tool which introduces students to the CS world using the Python programming language. Essentially a small computer, students build and program Raspberry Pi themselves!

Shaun Gant: Lance Digitization Project The purpose of the Lance Digitization Project is to preserve and avail 25 years (1983-2008) of Hellgate High School newspapers for Hellgate students and to the public.  Free access and preservation of the papers makes them useful generally for the school, community, and alumni and for HHS journalism students specifically.  With the advent of preserving newspapers digitally, journalism students can access the history of editorials, student events, writing styles, photographic history, and artwork from the past.  The content of this collection will also be available for social studies, ELA, and library media classes exploring the culture and history of Missoula’s schools.  As the oldest high school in Missoula, the historical preservation of these papers is important to the community at large.

Colleen Windell: Cellular Respiration and Photosyntheses – Two Sides of the Same Coin Using Vernier Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen sensors, students will be able to accurately measure the levels of these gases as they monitor plants, animals and combustion to get a better understanding of cellular respiration (and how it relates to combustion) and photosynthesis.

Melissa Lynn: Early Elementary STEM Using Lego WeDo 2.0 kits, young, early elementary students will engage in the engineering design process and early coding skills. Through collaborative problem solving teams, aligned with NGSS standards, children will learn early STEM concepts and 21st century skills.

TJ Decker: 1st Grade Literacy Library The 1st Grade Literacy Project at Rattlesnake Elementary aims to bring a variety of beginning and mid-level picture book sets as well as sets of beginning chapter books to use in our Walk to Read program.

Joanne Boyles: Creative Geometry Students will plan, design and create items such as blankets, pillows, patchwork quilts using principals of geometry for themselves or as gifts for others, making this a true practical application of skills in the real world. This allows students to experience for themselves some of the real world/practical applications of geometry.

Kristy Rothe: Farm to Fork – Veggie Garden and Canning Lab In conjunction with the new MCPS Meat Processing Lab, the Agriculture Center will also be installing a Commercial Kitchen.  This project will utilize the commercial kitchen to teach students how to harvest, process and safely can fruits and vegetables the students have grown in the gardens at the Agriculture Center. Through hands-on learning students will learn where their food comes from and how to produce and process their own fruits and vegetables.

Ariel Cornelius: Graphing Cardio Movements Algebra 1 students will complete a cardio task and graph their results. This cardio task can be running, walking, sprinting, a cartwheel, or a mixture of all. Students will then try to find a function that relates to their creation and pass to another group. The second group will have to determine what activity the group completed based on their equation. Students will then compare and talk about results. This is an active activity that encourages students to study the real world and model the results.

Jeanne Veteto: Lifetime Education This program will educate students on the positive impact of exercise and why they should be active and live a healthy lifestyle after high school. Students will develop an understanding of how their physical health effects their emotional, social, community, and academic success in life.

Noel Nesmith: Making Math Real In high school, math students always ask, “When will I ever use this?”. Making math real is essential to student success and for the application of math outside of the classroom. It is difficult to teach conceptual understanding in math unless students are shown how to apply it to the world around them. This approach to teaching and learning math requires students to apply math skills to real world problems. Students must pass this course to graduate, but it must also be meaningful and prepare them for the world in which we live.

Chris Jacaruso: CNC Machining This project addresses the need for students in the manufacturing area to develop their skills using computer technology to manufacture items.  Much of the manufacturing industry today has become automated through the use of computer technology. What makes  this project unique is the combination of science, math, and technology needed to create an acceptable individual project.  Students will research creative designs on the internet before beginning designs.  Students will need to use the computer program, AutoCAD, to create a design.  They will use the Lincoln Torchmate software and CNC plasma cutting machine to manufacture the design from steel.  Once the design is manufactured, many of the students will learn the science behind heat coloring steel as part of the metal finishing process.

Jessica Stamler: Podcasting: Audio Reporting and Storytelling The art of interviewing requires students to conduct prior independent research, synthesize various sources of information, identify key facts and atmospheric details, think critically, and collaborate seamlessly with their subjects. By inviting students to practice care with their interviews, then giving them the opportunity to reflect on and then refine the results, this project will use modern technology to get at the core skills of journalism: critical analysis, personal connection, and intelligent inquiry.

Angel Nordquist: A Classroom to Meet the Needs According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, students who feel safe and comfortable are able to better and more quickly learn material in school. This project will serve to provide supplemental comfort/food/social support to SLP students.

By being productive and successful in self-choice students will begin to build self-confidence in their learning environment. This allows the teacher to reach the final tier of self-actualization where a student is able to learn. For many of our students, the only meals they get are at school. We want to provide food that will nourish the body and mind, and so will provide a small kitchen where students can cook and eat together. In providing different types of seating, students are encouraged to show self-efficacy in choosing what seating they can handle and what type of seating best suits their mood or physical needs of the day.

Crystal Thompson: Re-Imagined Recess Franklin Elementary is a Montana Behavioral Initiative School, which means we are fully committed to collecting school-wide behavioral data, reflecting upon that information, and creating goals of improvement. One area of continued focus for our school is socially-appropriate, safe play during recess. Many children cannot manage the noise, chaos and freedom of recess and are continually searching for ways to stay indoors. This Missoula Education Foundation Grant will help Franklin Staff to develop a fun and academically-engaging alternative to outdoor recess, called Re-Imaginged Recess. This recess alternative will be center-based and developmentally-appealing. There will be opportunity for individual play, or group play. Re-Imagined Recess will be staffed by two adults, trained in Zones of Regulation and Social Thinking curricula, assisting children in building their knowledge bases, self-regulation, and socially-healthy engagement. NeoRock chairs will be available to students with sensory or movement-based needs—they can participate in center activities while meeting their needs for movement.

Nicholas Malinak: Summer Activities Camp High school students who participate and lead a range of school clubs, activities, and academic programs, ranging from fine arts to STEM to the International Baccalaureate program, will spend a week in the summer sharing those programs with students from Missoula area middle schools in a camp that is free and open to all students entering 7-9 grade.  The mornings will consist of a week-long speech, drama, and debate unit in preparation for a Friday exhibition tournament, while the afternoons will vary from drama games, a trip to the Ag center, a crime scene STEM mystery, and more depending on student requests.

Matt Bell: Water Wisdom This project will focus on using hydroponic techniques to grow foods. Students will evaluate management practices related to the human, economic, and environmental resources. Students will learn about other methods of gardening and make comparison through observation and analysis. Students will also learn about concepts of food sovereignty and food justice.

Daniel Lande: Help Eliminate 3D Printing Waste! With 3D printers becoming more common around the district, a significant amount of waste plastic is generated. A common statement I get from my students is “it would be cool if we could recycle the filament.” Well, with The ProtoCycler we can! Waste plastic can be turned into new filament that can be reprinted using our 3D printers. In my classroom, 3D printing has become a major part of what we do. We print items for many classes, other teachers, our robotics team, and we sell 3D printed items as fundraisers. We have even designed and printed our own brackets for mounting networking hardware in our equipment rack. We have three 3D printers in my classroom, and three others in the school. Across the district, there are many more. Students engaged in Help Eliminate 3D Printing Waste will collect the waste from failed prints, filament changes, etc. from all of the schools and use a filament recycling machine to grind, melt, and produce new filament.

Creative Classroom Grants 2016-2017

Tom Andres – Let’s Lead the Local Good Initiative – Big Sky High School Agriculture Program

MCPS Ag Center can lead Missoula’s local food initiative by producing safe, healthy food products grown, processed, and sold off the school farm. The new Food Science Lab will allow students to participate in every aspect of food production – right from the ground to the table. Students will truly know and appreciate where their food comes from.

Matt Bell – Beats, Rhymes and life – Willard High School Alternative Program

The purpose of this project is to provide a creative outlet for students to demonstrate proficient understanding of class materials. Students will create music then draft lyrics that are influenced by material from other classes as well as from self-reflection.

Robyn Edington & Theresa McGeary – Teaching Emotional Regulation with Zones of Regulation – Hawthorne Elementary School

Using the Zones of Regulation Curriculum, we will teach students to recognize their emotional states, which the Curriculum refers to as Zones. Students will learn to use sensory tools and strategies to regulate their actions according to the Zone that they are in and improve their ability to control their behavior and solve problems.

Rhonda Krause – Learning to Read/Reading to Learn – Hawthorne Elementary School

This project will provide students with the materials necessary to listen to stories and record themselves reading. This will offer my students another way to access and share quality literature, which will help to enhance and enrich their language, reading fluency, and comprehension skills.

Allie McFarland – Enrichment Clubs – CS Porter Middle School

A menu of clubs will be available for CS Porter Middle School eighth graders to choose from during a 45-minute Enrichment Class Period. Self-selected groups will provide support and enhanced engagement during the school day. Clubs include: Logic & Strategies, Authors & Artists, Recreation & Fitness, and Homework Zone.

Kimberly Olson & Aderley Murphy – Cuentame Mas (Tell Me More) – Meadow Hill & Washington Middle School

‘Cuentame Mas’, or ‘Tell Me More’, is a collaborative project for 6th – 8th grade Spanish classes at Meadow Hill and Washington Middle School to dramatically improve their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in Spanish through the TPRS methodology (Total Physical Response Storytelling).

Erin Eastlick-Rohde, Mary Beth Jourdonnais, Pat Lubke, Yer Thao, Melissa Meng – NGSS/Trees and Weather Science Unit – Hawthorne Elementary School

The FOSS Trees and Weather curriculum would be utilized each year as an integrated unit connecting students to the world we live in through engaging in scientific practices, writing, reading, math, and the arts. Students will have the opportunity to investigate through hands-one experiences, helping us to teach to Kindergarten learning standards.

Brett Taylor – WEN’s Gloating Island Sustainable H2O (FISH) Project – Sentinel High School

In this Floating Island Sustainable H2O program, the Watershed Education Network will lead student in monitoring Pattee Creek’s water quality. Students will then cultivate and install a Biohaven Floating Island at the storm water retention pond – thereby giving students the unique opportunity for future biological, physical and chemical monitoring.

Brandy Thrasher – Technology Integration for Hands on Learning in Chemistry & Physics – Washington Middle School

The integration of digital data collection probes into science classes will support various aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) learning. By being able to use electronic data probes, students will be able to collect accurate data so they can better engage in an inquiry learning process for both physics and chemistry.

Creative Classroom Grants 2015-2016

Lan Ann Bryant – Eagle’s Nest Thrift Store; Taking it on the Road – Big Sky High School

The Eagle’s Nest Thrift Store opened at Big Sky High School on October 25, 2011 with the purpose of giving students hands-on, real-world experiences in the world of business. We would like to move to the next level and begin making our own merchandise by re-purposing donations and having a mobile business to travel to local craft shows and markets.

Bryan Whitney – Free Voluntary Reading Program ion the French Classroom – Sentinel High School

By creating a free voluntary reading program in the French classroom, student will have a print-rich environment with materials that are both engaging and comprehensive. This program will improve their fluency, vocabulary, and grammar in French as well as encourage lifelong reading and learning.

Ellen Parchen – Milltown Dam site field trip – Hellgate High School

During the spring, the Earth and Science curriculum includes a unit on Place Based educaiton connecting to our ‘Erosion on the Landscape’ classroom work. This field trip is a multi-dimensional trip where we work with WEN and other community experts to gain field experience.

Allison  Boone & Kathleen Devlin – Life Cycles Unit – Franklin Elementary

Students will identify and sequence the life cycle stages of all living things through careful research. They will engage in the close reading of stimulating nonfiction texts and record detailed observations about changes in organisms living right in their own classroom.

Tom Andres – Life on the Farm – Big Sky High School Agriculture Program

The MCPS VoAg Center and the Washington and CS Porter Flagship students will partner in the summer to run a two-week long camp called ‘Life on the Farm’. Flagship students will work with teachers and high school students at the VoAg Center daily, learning farm operations.

Angela Opitz – Oh, The Places You’ll Know: Creating Opportunities to Foster Global Competency – Rattlesnake Elementary School

This project will advance global awareness by merging traditional academic content with global competency skills in the curriculum. Global perspectives will be integrated throughout the year through thoughtful execution of global education resources, themes, and technology to build a foundation of awareness that can transform school culture and increase understanding of people and place.

Molly Kast – Hands-On STEM Learning – Rattlesnake Elementary School

In Kindergarten, play is the most important form of learning. We would like to enhance our science and math curriculum with engaging, hands-on activities that are connected to STEM. Common Core State Standards, and our themed yearly units. Our grade level team would share STEM kits and curriculum boxes to serve the maximum number of students.

Creative Classroom Grants 2014-2015

Mary Beth Jourdonnais, Pat Lubke, Yer Thao – The Pillow Case Project – Hawthorne Elementary School

The purpose of the ‘Pillow Case’ project is to give each Kindergarten student a pillow case sewn with custom made fabric that includes all of our high frequency words. This will allow students to practice the high frequency words introduced in the Kindergarten curriculum. This project will impact student learning by 1) building a foundation for reading, 2) promoting at-home reading, and 3) reinforcing the connection between home and school.

Jennifer Malloy – Healthy Movement for Healthy Minds – Russell Elementary School

The project’s goal is to transform my classroom into a learning lab that promotes healthy movement. The first step in this transition is to incorporate creative seating and work spaces for learners. Dynamic seating options can help increase focus, engagement and collaboration; all important things for 21st Century learners.

Kimberly Olson – Kids Teaching Kids – Meadow Hill Middle School

‘Kids Teaching Kids’ is a pilot project that incorporates online blended learning methodologies with face-to-face teaching experiences between 8th grade Spanish students at Meadow Hill and their first grade buddies at Paxson Elementary.

Angela Schowenger – Ceramic Tile Mural – Washington Middle School

The purpose of the ceramic mural project is to create a piece of artwork that will be hung in Washington Middle School for many years and allow the students that participated in the creation of the piece to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride for their school.

Britt Sonsalla, Autumn Johnstone, Heather Roos, Claudia Sonsalla – Science Explorers – Paxson Elementary School

We intend to design a program to offer our students experiential learning opportunities to meet Montana Science Standards. By building their background knowledge, students will develop the skills necessary to become lifelong science learners. This project will utilize community resources to increase student engagement and offer opportunities for inquiry-based learning.

Brendan Work – Arabic Mystery Investigation – Sentinel High School

For second-year Arabic foreign language students, I have written and tested along-term interactive murder mystery taking place across the Arab world for students to solve by eliciting, sharing, and interpreting information from spoken interviews and written texts. Grant funds would be used to purchase materials that will support the authentic immersion experience of the mystery and deepen the students’ appreciate of Arabic language and culture.

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