Teachers at four Kilgore ISD campuses received a surprise visit Thursday morning as the Kilgore ISD Education Foundation Prize Patrol made its rounds.
Six projects were given the green light – and the funding – to move forward.
This year it worked out that each of the six finalists who presented in a “Shark Tank” style meeting last week were given their requested money. That is not necessarily how it will always work, but a successful gala made it possible for the foundation to hand out about $31,470 in grants.
“The community has entrusted us with what we raised at the gala and this is our way of showing how we’re giving back and being prudent with what they’ve given us,” KISD Education Foundation Grant Committee Chair Dustin Swaim said.
With 18 grant applications this year, the number has nearly doubled from last year’s 10 submissions. The recipients and money increased also, going from four projects last year totaling $22,000 to six projects valued at almost $31,500.
The process began with a grant writing workshop before teachers submitted their applications to the committee. Kilgore ISD administrators then helped the committee select the six finalists, who then pitched their ideas to the committee members and district administrators.
“It’s really awesome to be able to turn around and give that back to the education,” Swaim said about the presentations. “That’s our goal. Our goal as a foundation is to assist the ISD… It’s very exciting, and I’m very excited for our district.”
The “Shark Tank” event helped smooth the grant process because committee members could ask questions and hear the answers immediately from the presenters.
“It’s really neat to see the teachers and how they’re thinking innovatively and thinking outside the box,” Swaim said.
Even the projects that may seem simple are still innovative because of the research being used to back up the request.
“We had things from dealing with robots and computers to things that were dealing with desks, but it’s all innovative – up to date research or technology,” he said. “That’s what we want to see, and we want to encourage all teachers to take an interest in doing so.”
Every project funded by a KISD Education Foundation grant must present a follow-up to show the progress the project has made.
“They must show us how prudent they’ve been with the funds they’ve been given,” Swaim said.
Last year’s grant recipients used the KISD Education Foundation gala last February as their follow-up presentation. Not every project lends itself to a full presentation or demonstration, such as the Fidget and Get It grant for stand-up desks and a sensory foot fidget bar, but updated discipline or in-class reports can show progress.
“We hope that those who gave can see where this is going, going back into,” Swaim said. “That’s the biggest thing is we as a committee we as a foundation are prudent with what we’re given. That’s our biggest concern, biggest goal is to do what’s right with what we’re given… We’re all there for these kiddos.”
Teachers behind each of the funded projects will attend Monday’s KISD board meeting, which is set for 6 p.m. in the Kilgore High School cafeteria.