Plano ISD Teachers Surprised with $125,000 in Grants

Grant winner Memorial Elementary counselor Jennifer Erp with members of the Grant Patrol // photo courtesy The Foundation

On Nov. 12 Christmas came early for more than 110 Plano ISD teachers, counselors and librarians as together they received a total of $125,000 in educational grants.

Grants to Educators, a program of the Plano ISD Education Foundation, graciously provides funds to Plano ISD educators each year ranging in value from $250 to $1,500. Teachers, grades or entire schools had the ability to apply for these grants which will financially support projects that demonstrate instructional excellence.

The Plano ISD Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to support Plano schools and educators. Since 2000 almost $17 million has been gifted to Plano ISD by the Foundation to enhance scholastic learning and recognize deserving educators.

Mary James, Armstrong Middle School // photos Jennifer Shertzer
Grant recipient Mary James, Armstrong Middle School // photos Jennifer Shertzer

“Programs like Grants to Educators is what the PISD Education Foundation is all about. As we surprised each teacher on their campus today, you could see the excitement and passion these educators have for their students. We are Plano ISD Proud, “ said Jamee Jolly, Plano ISD Education Foundation Sr. Executive Director.

This year’s 2019 Grant Patrol was comprised of Plano ISD Education Foundation, sponsors Medical City Plano and Huawei, community leaders, parents and other volunteers who drove around the city in eight cars on loan from event partner Park Place Lexus Plano. Arriving with pom poms in hand, they gleefully surprised teacher after teacher all throughout the district with the news that they’d won.

“This is the 14th year [giving these grants]. This is my third time to go along. It’s a whole lot of fun,” said Sara Bonser, Plano ISD Superintendent.

Zarinah Hayes, Otto Middle School
Grant recipient Zarinah Hayes, Otto Middle School, with Plano ISD Superintendent Sara Bonser

Educators at 55 Plano ISD schools received grants funding a wide range of projects. Amber Pirillo at Dooley Elementary received $585 to start a coding club for grades K-3. Tommy Guynes at Plano East Senior High received $1,500 to start a penpal program connecting high school students with members of the business community as well as adults in senior living communities.

(From left) Tarah Clark, Armstrong Middle School Asst. Principal; Sara Bonser, Plano ISD Superintendent; Cherie Lo, Huawei Senior Manager of Corporate Communications; Kari Nodeland, Grant Recipient and Armstrong Middle School Counselor; Carole Greisdorf, Program Sponsor; Jeff Beckley, Plano ISD Education Foundation Board Member; Melissa Blank, Armstrong Middle School Principal
(From left) Tarah Clark, Armstrong Middle School Asst. Principal; Sara Bonser, Plano ISD Superintendent; Cherie Lo, Huawei Senior Manager of Corporate Communications; Kari Nodeland, Grant Recipient and Armstrong Middle School Counselor; Carole Greisdorf, Program Sponsor; Jeff Beckley, Plano ISD Education Foundation Board Member; Melissa Blank, Armstrong Middle School Principal

At Armstrong Middle School, Kari Nodeland was surprised with a grant for $680 for counseling mindfulness toolkits.

“When I have students come into my office…if they’re not fidgeting or doing something, they don’t really talk as much,” Kari said. “But if they start walking around, they pick up pens, they’ll pick up my stuff. So I thought if we each had a counselor toolkit –fidgeter, manipulatives, things for them – that they would have a variety of options, and it would just help them open up a lot more.”

Kari Nodeland, Armstrong Middle School
Kari Nodeland, Armstrong Middle School

Zarinah Hayes at Otto Middle School was surprised with a $1,500 grant. This was her second year to apply for funding to purchase graphic novels.

“Students latch on to them. It helps my English language learners really develop a love for the language. They get very engaged because they can understand it with the text and the images,” Zarinah said. “Thank you, I’m so grateful.”

Plano ISD Education Foundation >
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