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The Junior League of Dallas (JLD) and presenting sponsor Texas Instruments (TI) awarded 38 Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) educators with grants of up to $2,500 each through the annual Grants for Innovative Teaching (GFIT) program. In its history, this JLD Signature Project has awarded more than $2.2 million to Dallas ISD educators, and this year, it will directly impact more than 30,000 students. It is designed to encourage excellence in education by funding special projects addressing reading and literacy enrichment; diversity; special education; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); or arts and culture enrichment across one or more grade levels. This year, $78,684 was distributed to support deserving educators’ winning projects during a ceremony held September 14, 2023, at Junior League of Dallas Headquarters.

The Grants for Innovative Teaching Committee is in awe of the level of innovation, uniqueness and inclusivity that each of the educators so passionately brought to the table. We are thrilled to be able to provide financial support to these creative educators and impact more than 30,000 Dallas ISD students throughout this school year,” said JLD President Christina Eubanks. “The funding of these grants is possible through generous donations from our sponsors including: Texas Instruments (Presenting Sponsor) and The Agnes Cluthe Oliver Foundation. Without their continued generosity, this program would not exist.”

Some of the grants selected include: Eclipses are Totally Awesome, The Heart of Hawthorne-Learning Through the School Garden, and Future in Biotechnology. The projects awarded will provide students with diverse experiences and highlight the innovation of the Dallas ISD educators.

Eclipses are Totally Awesome will provide at least 2,000 sixth through eighth grade science students with safe solar viewing glasses to view the eclipse, which will take place on April 8, 2024. This eclipse will be a very unique experience for these students because in this century, only six more solar eclipses will take place in North America, but none of those will take place in the state of Texas. Students will study eclipses leading up to the date, including learning about space science, the math involved in studying solar eclipses, and long held beliefs about eclipses found in various cultures.

The Heart of Hawthorne-Learning Through the School Garden - This is the third phase of the Hawthorne Garden and is designed to increase the sustainability of the garden after seeing great success at this elementary school campus after phases 1 and 2. Heart of Hawthorne aims to support academic achievement, social and emotional wellbeing, and the development of healthy lifestyle choices. The campus garden is instrumental in reducing stress among students, while making a positive impact on self-esteem and overall development. Cross-curricular connections through the integration of all content areas (science, math, social studies and reading) will help increase academic success and achievement. Active participation in the campus garden will also include health and nutrition awareness, as data suggests that students who grow vegetables are more likely to eat them.

Future in Biotechnology is designed to enable first year students in the Advanced Science Cluster magnet program to build skills in biotechnology and innovation by designing a prototype for the Toshiba/NSTA Exploravision Competition as part of the year’s curriculum, with an end of year capstone project. Previously, students have been limited due to a lack of ability to engage in hands-on industry quality biotechnology investigations. With the technology acquired through this grant, students will be able to better understand the technologies through hands-on experiential learning. The project also helps students build soft skills like presentation skills and resume preparation that will set the students up for long-term success.

“Teachers mean more to students’ academic success than any other part of the academic experience,” said Andy Smith, TI director of giving and volunteering. “They serve as role models and champions for their students, all while preparing them for future success. This is TI’s 14th year to support the Junior League of Dallas’ Grants for Innovative Teaching awards, and we are proud to be a part of a program that recognizes such outstanding teachers as this year’s recipients.” 

The Junior League of Dallas cultivates leaders who collectively address the critical needs of the community. Founded in 1922, JLD is one of the largest Junior Leagues in the world, as well as the largest and oldest training organization for women in Dallas. Active members range in age from 22 to 49 with approximately 85% percent of women employed outside of the home. The JLD provides leadership opportunities to nearly 4,000 women each year through more than 17,000 cumulative hours of experiential and formal training. Uniquely member-run, JLD provides approximately 100,000 hours in volunteer service and more than $1 million in funding to area nonprofits each year. For more information, please visit www.jldallas.org or Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

The Dallas Independent School District is continually preparing its more than 141,000 students for college or a career. The district offers a competitive mix of innovative programs, choice programs and instructional initiatives that support the increased academic achievement and the social and emotional development of its students. To learn more, visit www.dallasisd.org.

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