IPEI Awards 16 New Teacher Grants

December 11, 2015


The Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) has awarded 16 new Teacher Grants totaling $19,055 for projects that will engage more than 1,500 students in educational enrichment programs during 2015-16 school year.

Teachers across the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) have developed with community partners a variety of innovative programs in math, science, history, literacy and the arts.

“The grants show the amazing creativity of our teachers, from using drones to monitor vegetation changes to exploring a piece of art in its cultural setting to using rhyming and music to develop early literacy skills,” said Sandy True, chair of the IPEI Teacher Grant Committee. “Our community has a deep passion for education, and IPEI has channeled this energy to assist our teachers in creating an environment where our students enjoy learning!”

One of the Teacher Grants will bring a geographic information specialist (GIS) to science classrooms at DeWitt Middle School and Ithaca High School to learn about energy decision-making. “Creating science curriculum around real-world problems and providing opportunities for students to learn and practice the skills that will enable them to address one of our biggest challenges is what motivated me to create the IPEI project,” said Laura VanVleet, science teacher at DeWitt. “Almost every day, the topic of energy is in the news, both globally and locally. Every citizen needs to be involved in the conversation, but the content and the skills involved are complex. Media literacy skills, data and map analysis, debate, and opinion writing with evidence are just some of the skills we will tackle. Having targeted curriculum that addresses these skills and the science content will help young people become a part of this conversation, and at the same time become engaged in activities that foster critical thinking and motivation.”

At Beverly J. Martin Elementary School, a Teacher Grant will help improve literacy skills of fourth-graders through an interdisciplinary approach to studying poetry and other writing techniques, map-making and social studies practices, and photography and short films. “We want to present our fourth-grade writers with ‘listening-learning-noticing-knowing’ structures paired with literacy pieces like poems, books and short films,” said Sarah Wolff, a local poet collaborating with BJ Martin teacher Katie Dietrich Cacciotti. “We believe that the saturation of literacy processes will yield infinite reading and writings from the students.”

Other projects include a Wassa Pan Afrikan Dance Ensemble performance at Lehman Alternative Community School in February for Black History Month, Pre-K through fifth-grade workshops with a graphic novelist at Fall Creek Elementary School, and a study of Medieval and Renaissance periods in European history by tenth-grade global students at the Johnson Art Museum at Cornell.

The annual deadline to apply for an IPEI Teacher Grant award of up to $1,500 is November 1.

IPEI Teacher Grants 2015-16

Harmonious Harps at Belle Sherman
Cindy Daly/Belle Sherman with
Lisa Craig Fenwick, Professional Harpist

Inside Outside Upside Down: Discovering the World through the Language of Dance
Sheri McWhorter-Wyckoff and Mary Anne Camel/Beverly J. Martin with
Lisa Tsetse, Choreographer

Scaffolding to Infinity
Katie Dietrich Cacciotti/Beverly J. Martin with
Sarah Wolff, Poet

Yoga Storytelling and Strengthening a Sense of Self
Sarah Smith and Kelly Craft/Fall Creek and Beverly J. Martin with
Diane Hamilton, Yogi and Storyteller

ELEVATE Science Learning with Drones*
Brian VanGorder/Caroline with
Matt Sacco, Cayuga Nature Center, and CUAIR Cornell University Drone Club

Where in the World
Kerri Burke/Caroline with
Mary Beth Ihnken, Artist

Energy Decisions: Problem-Based Learning for Enhancing Student Motivation and Critical Thinking in Middle and High School Science *
Laurie VanVleet/DeWitt and Ithaca High with
Karen Edelstein, GIS specialist

Using Rhyming and Music to Build Early Literacy Skills
Sharon Ciferri/Enfield with
Judy Stock, Musician

Barry Deutsch Author Visit
Allison Andersen/Fall Creek with
Barry Deutsch, Author

Fall Creek Family Dance **
Karla Notarianni/Fall Creek with
Victoria Armstrong, Dance Caller, and Dave Davies, Musician

English 10 / English 12 Viewing of Macbeth (2015) at Cinemapolis
Michael Reiff and William Asklar/Ithaca High School with
Brett Bossard, Cinemapolis

Medieval and Renaissance Extravaganza*
Cassidy Fisk/Ithaca High School with
Carol Hockett, Johnson Museum of Art, and Maryterese Pasquale-Bowen

Reforesting Chestnut Street
Sarah Jane Bokaer/LACS with
Pamela Markham, Horticulturist

LACS presents Wassa Pan Afrikan Dance Ensemble
Marcy Little/LACS with
Nana Kwasi Anim, Director of Wassa Pan Afrikan Dance Ensemble

How to Keep Our World Healthy and Clean for Everyone and Everything
Emily Kerry/Northeast with
Tompkins County Solid Waste, and Cayuga Compost

Take One Picture
Alison Pritz/South Hill with
Carol Hockett, Johnson Museum of Art, Jai Hari Meyerhoff, Yogi
*Selected to be funded by the Charles E. Treman Jr. Teacher Grant Endowment of the Tompkins Charitable Gift Fund in memory of the former president of the Tompkins Trust Company.

**Selected to be funded by a gift from a retired ICSD teacher who encourages the integration of music into elementary classrooms.


Ithaca Journal coverage: http://www.ithacajournal.com/story/news/local/2015/12/10/ithaca-teachers-get-19k-grants/77095746/

Say Thanks and Support IPEI on #GivingTuesday December 1IPEI Awards Two Connecting Classrooms Grants