2018-2019 Classroom Assistance Grant Recipients

This year, TRTF awards thirty $500 grants to teachers all across Texas!

Robert Barbosa of Sharyland High School will use the grant to implement the “Pale Blue Dot!” Project for his World Geography course. He will purchase the ISS-ABOVE HD unit, which provides real-time NASA feeds from the International Space Station, to inspire exploration and appreciation for the planet, the environment, and space exploration while reinforcing STEM skills.

Kelly Thomas of Dr. Ralph H. Poteet High School in Mesquite will purchase a video camera with microphones for taping film projects and a professional camera to take headshots of her students for their college auditions to theater programs and more. The money will also allow her to purchase a backdrop and lighting system.

Isabel Anaya of Kuentz Elementary in Helotes will transform the Kuentz Theater Group into “Theater for a Cause,” allowing her students—who create, choreograph, design and perform the shows—to raise proceeds for community projects such as the Casa Helotes Senior Citizens Center. The grant will help her buy wireless microphone headsets, spotlights, and decorations.


Ciara Oatman and Dena Favors of Davila Middle School in Bryan will create the “Texan Brews” coffee cart, which will allow their students to practice life and job skills by running a business on wheels! The grant will purchase Keurig coffeemakers and pods, a rolling cart, and other supplies. Students will prepare and sell the coffee, maintain the equipment, and use profits to expand the options on the cart and grow their business.

Davila Middle School teachers Ciara Oatman and Dena Favors pose with their students.

L to R: Davila Middle School Principal Shannon McGee, Brazos County RTA Foundation Representative Danny Stribling, Teachers Ciara Oatman and Dena Favors, and TRTF Board President Jamie Larson.


Denise Sanders of James Bowie High School in Austin teaches the Scientific Research and Design class, a project-based learning environment in which each student works on a molecular biology project assigned by Dr. Al MacKrell (a professor at the University of Texas). Ms. Sanders will purchase an upright freezer for the lab, which will provide enough space for every student to have his or her own test tube box and will eliminate errors and cross-contamination.

TRTA Associate Director Cindee Sharp presents the grant to Bowie High School teacher Denise Sanders while Principal Mark Robinson looks on.

Students in Denise Sanders' class work on a project.

Students in Denise Sanders' class work on a project.

Students in Denise Sanders' class work on a project.


Samantha Keaton of the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Fort Worth has her students paint and donate literacy chairs to a local elementary school and then read books with the younger students. With the funds, Ms. Keaton will purchase tools, used chairs, sandpaper, and paint, allowing her students to expand the project to serve more schools and even add tables later on.

Samantha Keaton, a teacher at Young Women's Leadership Academy in Fort Worth, is presented a TRTF classroom assistance grant by Fort Worth RSEA President Sam Kiker, Membership Chair Brenda Whitlock, and Foundation Representative Charolette Drones.


Tisha Young, Rhonda Hargis, Allie Perkins, and MykleAnn Wright, the Math Department of Teague Jr. High, will purchase four Huion INSPIROY Q11K wireless graphics tablets. These tablets connect wirelessly to the teacher’s laptop, allowing the teacher to move throughout the classroom and work with each student individually and also providing students a chance to use the interactive whiteboard.


Caitlin Gray of John Haley Elementary in Irving will start a backpack checkout program for her K-5 art classes. The backpacks will contain sketchbooks, pencils, erasers, and binders. The students will sketch the prompt in the backpack and complete an artist statement. Ms. Gray will also purchase a couple of digital drawing tablets for the classroom.

Rachel Morgan, President of the Irving RSPA and Thenia Haynie, Community Volunteer Service Chair of the Irving RSPA, deliver a classroom assistance grant to teacher Caitlin Gray at John Haley Elementary School in Irving. Also pictured (far left) is school principal Lindsey Sanders.


Marsha Hammack of the AISD Center for Innovation at McMurry University in Abilene will purchase Snap Circuit Pro sets, Snap Circuits Light sets, and Snap Circuit Rover kits to allow her students to explore the field of mechanical, light, electrical and sound energy. Students will build functioning radios, remote-controlled cars and much more!

Incoming TRTA District 14 President Sharon Daugherty and TRTF Trustee Lynn Granzin present a Classroom Assistance Grant to recipient Marsha Hammack, a teacher at Abilene ISD Center for Innovation at McMurry University.


Sara Willis of A&M Consolidated High School in College Station runs the Health Science Career and Technology Cluster, which offers certification and licensure courses for students who are not college-bound but seeking employment immediately after high school graduation. With the grant, Ms. Willis will be able to purchase additional laptops for the program for student use.

TRTF Board of Trustees President Jamie Larson delivers a classroom assistance grant to teacher Sara Willis, while Texas A&M Consolidated High School Principal Gwen Elder looks on.


Kayse Moore, a third grade Writing teacher at Grandview Elementary, will begin a school newspaper completely written and put together by the students. With the funds, Ms. Moore will purchase paper, pencils, handheld recorders for conducting interviews, and a classroom printer.

TRTA volunteers from the Johnson Somervell Counties RSEA local unit, including President Patsy Helmcamp, present a grant to third grade teacher Kayse Moore.


Danielle Wehmeyer of Silsbee High School will purchase two carbon dioxide sensors for the Biology Department to perform cellular respiration lab-based inquiries, which will allow her students to see and analyze science in real-time.

TRTA member Imogene Nelson is proud to present the TRTF grant to her granddaughter, teacher Danielle Wehmeyer. Imogene heard about the grant opportunity and encouraged Danielle to apply, and was thrilled to be asked to deliver the grant to Danielle personally.


Chad Forkner is a special education math resource teacher at Life School Oak Cliff Elementary in Dallas. With the grant, he will purchase the Power Pen Math Quiz Card set, allowing his students to receive instant feedback on addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, time, money, place value, and fractions.


Shawn Reeves works at TG Givens Early Childhood Center in Paris. He will build an outdoor extension of his Pre-K enrichment classroom. This will be an all-natural science and discovery area. Shawn will purchase the raw materials, such as chipped bark filler, potting/digging and water stations, and large boulders, while utilizing free materials from the school maintenance department (logs, etc.) to complete the area.

TRTF Trustee Mary Nell Short presents the grant to teacher Shawn Reeves.

Grant recipient Shawn Reeves and his students.

Sheila Daughtery, president of Lamar-Delta RSEA, TRTF Trustee Mary Nell, grant recipient Shawn Reeves and Mrs. Reeves, Shawn’s mother, and Sheila Ensey, principal of T.G. Givens Elementary School.


Jennifer Bush, a music teacher at Preston Elementary in Allen, will purchase Purposeful Pathways, a curriculum that uses a combination of folk songs, dances, instruments and games to teach music fundamentals to K-5 students. Ms. Bush will also purchase additional percussion instruments for her students.

TRTA volunteers Karen Malinowsky (TRTA District 10 Foundation Chair), Carolyn Power (Allen REA Foundation Chair), and Carole Smithwick (Allen REA President) present a grant to teacher Jennifer Bush at Preston Elementary. Also featured in the photo are Dr. Jenny Preston (far right), for whom the school is named, as well as the principal, Mrs. Johnna Walker (far left).


Neely Chapman and Courtney Miller of Fannin Elementary in Bryan will create a Motor/Sensory Lab for their special needs students. The lab will need tumble/yoga mats, yoga balls, weighted balls, a balance beam, river stones, a mini trampoline, spinning boards, and a tactile tunnel. This will help the students with motor control and anxiety, and will refocus their attention.

Left to right: Danny Stripling, Brazos Co. RTA Foundation Liaison, Carolyn Taylor, Brazos Co. RTA President, Grant Recipients Courtney Miller and Neely Chapman from Fannin Elementary in Bryan, Jamie Larson, TRTF Board of Trustees President, and Rebecca Ryberg, Fannin Elementary Principal.


Jesus Torres, Spencer Garretson and Matt Morey of East View High School in Georgetown will purchase tools and storage to help with marching band prop construction and maintenance, facilities repair and maintenance, instrument repair and maintenance, and general construction projects.

TRTA Associate Director Cindee Sharp presents the $500 grant check to teachers Jesus Torres and Matt Morey.

Jesus Torres and Matt Morey, band directors at East View High School in Georgetown, pose with their band students.


Angel Herring of Normandy Crossing Elementary in Houston will purchase floor robots known as Blue-Bots to help her ESL students learn cause and effect, sequencing, counting, letter recognition, problem-solving, early programming skills and more to grow their skills in STEM.

Adults from L-R are: Galena Park Senior Director for School Administration Dr. Christopher Pichon, Normandy Crossing Assistant Principal Ashleigh Barrett, David Hopkins, KARE; Normandy Crossing Principal Irene Benzor, Earline Hopkins, KARE; Charmaine Hines, NEHCRE; Phyllis Russell, NEHCRE; Angel Herring, Diane Chandler, NEHCRE; Brenda Ritter, TRTF; Technology Instructional Specialist Rachel Mallory, Linda Sherrard, NEHCRE; Beverly Madison-Harris, NEHCRE; Galena Park ISD Senior Director for School and Community Relations Sherrhonda Sherrard.

Two of Angel Herring ESL Kindergarten students demonstrate how the Blue-Bots work. The Classroom Assistance Grant will be used to purchase Blue Bots that the students have to program and control by using a computer.


Lisa Cox of Glen Rose Intermediate will build a deck to facilitate an outdoor learning space for the school courtyard, known as the “Tiger Garden.” With the grant, she will purchase lumber and nails while parent volunteers help to construct the deck.


Shelley Statler of Glen Rose Intermediate will implement the LEGO WeDo System for her 3rd grade robotics classes, better preparing the students for the more difficult concepts to come in the 4th and 5th grade.

TRTA volunteer Patsy Helmcamp, President of Johnson Somervell RSEA, presents grants to Glen Rose Intermediate teachers Lisa Cox and Shelley Statler.


Tina Hiers and Julie Vanhaverbeke of Tanglewood Middle School in Houston will create a student-produced podcast to showcase student opinions on current and historical events. To begin the project, they will purchase microphones, a sound mixer, soundproofing material, and computer software.


Jana Abston of Southland Schools in Southland, a rural West Texas community, will create the Classroom Book-A-Day project to build fluency, prosody, and intonation and encourage students in K-8th grade to become lifelong readers. To do this, she will create a classroom library full of fiction and non-fiction books for all age groups.

Grant recipient Jana Abston receives her certificate and check from TRTF Trustee Martha Kallus.


Jessica Hernandez of North Shore Senior High in Houston will use the funds for her design students’ annual fashion show during the school’s Career and Technology Explosion event. She will purchase fabric, notions, and an additional sewing machine for her classroom so that students may complete their clothing projects more quickly.

The first two rows are the design students. Back row L-R are Northeast Harris County Retired Educators Beverly Madison-Harris, Diane Chandler, Linda Sherrard, Charmaine Hines, Plyllis Russell, Jessica Hernandez, Brenda Ritter, Northshore Senior High Principal Dr. Joe Coleman, Katy Area Retired Educators Earline & David Hopkins, and Galena Park ISD Executive Director for School Administration Tammy Pankratz.


Rebecca Sipes teaches at Trivium Academy in Carrollton. She will purchase five Osmo Genius systems, which coordinate with Apple iPads, to use games to engage students in science and technology activities.

Cassandra Mares of Harlandale Middle School in San Antonio will purchase two HP Stream laptops, allowing her to implement Genius Hour, an inquiry-driven, student-centered learning project in which students are given an opportunity to research a topic they are passionate about. Students will use the laptops to conduct research, and will then create a website, slideshow, or video to show what they have learned.

Dixie Elizondo works at Veterans Memorial High School in Mission. She will launch “A Kid and A Book” at the school, filling high school classrooms with high interest reads and novel trilogies such as Maze Runner and also educational magazine subscriptions.

Brandi Cox teaches at Robinson Primary and will buy an outdoor, weather-resistant chalkboard for the school’s green classroom. Students in primary and elementary classes will have the opportunity to get fresh air and natural lighting in a setting conducive to learning about the environment and ecology.


Hope Anthony teaches Algebra at Paris High School and will implement Breakout Room activities for all high school math classes. Breakout Rooms involve using clues, games, tools, and puzzles to solve a lesson-focused mystery, while enabling students to use teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting skills.

Grant recipient Hope Anthony and TRTF Trustee Mary Nell Short.

Grant recipient Hope Anthony and her fellow math teachers.


Marie Clanton works at Sulphur Bluff schools in a small 1A district with limited funds to promote STEM activities. After learning more about NASA recently, Ms. Clanton would like to implement more science and technology for 3rd and 4th grade students by purchasing safety goggles, film canisters, yardsticks, stopwatches, magnifying glasses, thermometers and more.

TRTF Trustee Mary Nell Short presents a grant to Sulphur Bluff teacher Marie Clanton, while school principal Amy Northcutt looks on.


Robert Daigle works at Lowell Smith Middle School in Cleburne and will purchase Qball and Classcraft to gamify his math classroom. Mr. Daigle hopes to eliminate the anxiety and shyness of students who don’t usually excel at math by making math lessons into epic adventures with built-in rewards.