- Seven educators from four elementary schools in the Goleta Union School District received Innovation Grants to fund social emotional well-being, STEAM education, professional development, and classroom resources.
- When applying for Innovation Grants, educators were encouraged to question how to address classroom challenges, as opposed to focusing on solutions, and to take risks in bringing creative and novel teaching elements into the classroom.
- GEF received almost three times as many Innovation Grant applications from GUSD educators this year, elucidating the need for growth of the annual program.
The Goleta Education Foundation (GEF) is awarding $10,000 to Goleta Union School District (GUSD) educators who are bringing creative teaching ideas into the classroom to better serve all levels and types of learners. In only the second year of the program, GEF received almost three times as many applications from GUSD teachers who are eager to better address the challenges of teaching in today’s elementary school classrooms.
“Seeing the increase in grant applications this year is really exciting,” says GEF board member Felicia Roggero, who is also a GUSD principal, currently leading Foothill School and Goleta Family School. “Reading through the applications, the energy and thirst for knowledge from each of the educators applying for the Innovation Grants was palpable. The diversity of ideas presented was exceptional!”
The innovative ideas selected for funding by the GEF board included leveraging technology to incorporate video and sound recordings to better engage students, supporting students in their social emotional growth and well-being with a brain wave application and sensor, and developing lessons to promote kindness on the playground and in the classroom. Additionally, GEF is promoting the professional development of GUSD teachers by funding a project that emphasizes utilizing evidence-based practices that promote inclusion of students with autism in the general education classroom.
Educators from six of the nine elementary schools and one preschool in GUSD submitted applications for GEF’s Innovation Grants. The wide range of ideas presented in the applications reflects GUSD’s mission and vision to “maximize academic, intellectual, and personal growth” of all students. GEF is fortunate to partner with a school district with such talented and dedicated teachers and is committed to growing the amount of funds available for Innovation Grants in the coming years.
“We knew we had a limited pot of money to distribute, which was really frustrating because so many of the projects were genuinely worth funding,” noted Brady M. Bustany, another GEF board member and co-chair of the Innovation Grants committee. “The selection process this year was even more competitive than last year and I am hopeful that GEF will be able to continue increasing the overall amount of money we can distribute to our exceptional educators so that every worthy grant application can be funded.”
Recipients of this year’s Innovation Grants will attend the next GEF board meeting to be further congratulated and engage with each other on the merits of bringing new ideas and resources to the elementary classrooms. The awardees will also complete personal reflection pieces on the outcomes, both expected and unexpected, of the introduction of their innovations into their teaching practices. GEF looks forward to working with GUSD to expand some of the classroom innovations into additional classrooms, schools, and, potentially, across the District.