The Harlingen Area Educational Foundation presented more than $42,000 of Innovative Teaching Grants this year. HAEF board members and HCISD administrators visited 11 campuses across the district to announce grant recipients on April 14.
The series of check presentations kicked off at Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences with a $5,000 grant awarded to the campus to create a Zen Zone for teachers.
“We thought we could apply for a grant to have a zen room for our teachers,” Gutierrez Middle School Principal Mike Reyes said to the teachers and staff at the surprise announcement. “We wanted to create an area where you could just have a few minutes of time to yourselves during your conference time or team planning period to decompress.”
The grant proposal, submitted by Gutierrez Library Media Specialist Leticia Almaguer, requested funding for massage chairs, furniture, lighting, and décor that would help create a special, spa-like room for teachers.
“We have an idea of what we want in the room, but we are also going to ask for feedback from our teachers,” Reyes said.
The Innovative Teaching Grants aim to help enhance learning and innovation in classrooms and at campuses.
“I am proud to say that we were so excited with this request,” HAEF President Belinda C. Zapata said. “A zen room. I think that is phenomenal. That is just thinking outside the box. To give you the opportunity to compose yourself, to just get into that zen zone, and go back and teach our children, that is an idea that is beyond.”
Schools submitted applications for the Innovative Teaching Grants earlier this year with a variety of project ideas and amounts requested.
“There is no stronger partnership than HCISD has with the HAEF foundation,” Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola said. “It’s incredible how much work and fundraising they do to support what goes on in our school district. Part of that work includes the Innovative Teaching Grants that provide funds for our teachers and our campuses to expand on projects and ideas like these.”
The following Innovative Teaching Grants were awarded this year.
Bonham Elementary: Sensory Tools, $4,725
Bowie Elementary: STEM Station, $4485
Cano Freshman Academy: Gardening Club, $5,000
Dishman Elementary: Musical Experience, $1,305
Gutierrez Middle School: The Zen Zone, $5,000
Harlingen High School: Technology, $5,000
KEYS Academy: Outdoor Exercise Area, $5,000
Milam Elementary: IXL application, $2,175
Rodriguez Elementary: STEM Media Studio, $3,000
Treasure Hills Elementary: Books, $2,007
Wilson Elementary: STEM Studio, $4,380