Grants Recipients & Descriptions

Jim C. Bailey Middle, Grades 6-8, “Launch the Bus Challenge Breakout EDU” (STEM and Literacy)
Do you want to be the next Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Use your skills to launch the bus for an exciting and unknown destination! The Breakout EDU Bus creates a unique one-of-a-kind environment while engaging students in problem-solving and inquiry-based learning, augmenting any subject area. Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity and Communication are Breakout EDU’s 4 “C’s” directed towards learning and engagement. THIS is what learning is all about!
Lead Contact: Roberta D. Wetzel
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Sharon Pitts


Bellview Elementary, Grades K-5, “IMPACT-Integrated Media Program that Accesses Creative Technology” (STEM and Literacy)
It’s a cloudy day at Bellview Elementary, but not for students in first grade. Donning Virtual Reality goggles, little explorers escape to the sunny San Diego Zoo bursting with energy! Moving throughout the classroom, a teacher in safari gear prompts her students, “I see a feline we read about today.” A tiny arm stretches out, touching the majestic creature as her student exclaims, “A tiger!” With touring device in hand, more adventure awaits as the teacher guides her students into the next exhibit. With Virtual Reality goggles purchased from this grant, paired with informational text, students will deepen their literary experiences while building a rich vocabulary.
Lead Contact: Linda Sweeting
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Sandy Edwards


Brown-Barge Middle, Grades 6-8, “Manned Flight” (STEM and Literacy)
The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane, The Martian, and Race for the Sky skyrocket students to five destinations (or projects) in just one grant! The first “Destination” begins with students reading and discussing these books, using one book to investigate successful manned flight in order to construct their own airplanes. The second “flight” combines hands-on study of force and motion. Next, students build and test a parachute lander system at their third “connection” while evaluating and presenting results on Martian Habitations for their fourth “layover.” Finally, at journey’s end, the fifth and “final destination” lands students in group story-writing where they create a fictional crisis (like The Martian), infusing STEM knowledge into the plot and setting, knitting together a coherent story!
Lead Contact: Richard Hunter
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Daniel Joyner


Ensley Elementary, Grades 3 and 5, “What’s New in the World?” (Literacy)
So, where are you going? Do you like to read? Do you like exciting stories that will captivate your attention and keep you craving more? The elevator doors are about to open! Let Scholastic News and Storyworks greet you and take you on an adventure! You can travel anywhere, meet a variety of people, and learn about topics that are both engaging and relevant to events going on in the world today. So, what do you say? How about it? LET’S GO!
Lead Contact: Regina Smolensky
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Sandy Edwards


Escambia High, Grades 9-12, “STEAMY Gumbo: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Learning” (STEAM)
This is the first year in a multi-year project where Grants for Excellence will provide Escambia High’s Lead Contact and science teacher the opportunity to team up with Art teachers. With a dash of Art for good flavor, STEM simmers into “STEAMY Gumbo”, proving that art is necessary for science documentation and teaching! Begin with one cup each of the Living Shorelines, Lionfish Gut Contents DNA (yum!), and Bringing Back the Bayous. Add a quarter cup of cutting edge video, along with photographic and computer equipment. Finally, throw in a splash of the annual NASA Rover Challenge and stir in chunks of murals, drawings, and clay for a delicious student collaboration of galactic proportions!
Lead Contact: Matthew MacGregor
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Ed Sheffield


Roy Hyatt Environmental Center, Grades 2 and 5, “Cache your STEM Cares Away!: A Geocaching STEM Adventure” (STEM)
Geocaching provides an exciting way to engage students in real-world STEM lessons. These programs will provide a hands- on, inquiry based STEM activity conducted outside in nature. Students will use GPS devices to find “caches” which contain fun science activities. These activities must be completed to receive the clue which will navigate them to their next cache. They will also record the GPS coordinate data and mark it on a map to plot their journey. Geocaching opens a new real- world experience for STEM students of all backgrounds, encouraging them to become citizen scientists.
Lead Contact: Molly O’Connor
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Thomas Greek


Lincoln Park Elementary, Grades 1- 4, “Crazy for
Coding!” (STEM and Literacy)
Imagine learning about flying but never getting near a plane, much less flying one. Knowledge exists but experience is missing. This represents our students’ exposure with coding. Coding robots is the answer! Computers speak a language called coding that students need to learn. As society becomes more technologically advanced, the ability to read, write, and think in code becomes more valuable and necessary. This grant will prepare students for opportunities in a growing industry.
Lead Contact: Laura Hobbs
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Dee Dee Thompkins


Montclair Elementary, Grades PreK-5, “It’s ELECTRIC! EBooks For Everyone!” (Literacy)
It’s ELECTRIC!!! Almost everything in our universe is digital and books are no exception. An online subscription to Bookflix and Trueflix will put thousands of content-rich eBooks at the fingertips of our students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With colorful animation, rich audio, and interactive games, Bookflix is the perfect tool to engage and support beginning readers. Trueflix includes a variety of robust text types and media including primary sources, fiction, videos, audio clips, images and related websites.
Lead Contact: Inette Gardner
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Cindy Fell


Navy Point Elementary, Grades PreK-5, “Academic Growth STEMming from Collaborative Creativity” (STEM and Literacy)
Our school works to equip students for success by presenting positive learning experiences meshing team work skills within STEM related curricula. Supporting schools with an impoverished population makes transforming our instructional design especially crucial. Teaching today’s students by yesterday’s model results in losing many to the realities of their lives. We need to inspire our students to achieve the greatness for which they are destined. Our monthly STEM activities aim to do just that by closing the academic gaps our students experience.
Lead Contact: Laurie Cothran
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Jennifer Ponson


Northview High, Grades 9-12, “Bridges, the Sun and the Wind: We build, we analyze, we harness.” (STEM)
Bridges overcome the obstacles of travel while wind turbines and solar power help to overcome the obstacles of restricted energy resources. All of these meet the demands of society for a productive and bright future. How can the teachers of today give the adults of tomorrow a chance to sustain themselves? Let them build now; let them experiment; let them dream and make mistakes and then, let them succeed! They will dream and they will succeed.
Lead Contact: Jim Shugart
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Denise Rosenbloum


Oakcrest Elementary, Grades 3 – 5, “Drums and
Drama” (Literacy)
Drums? Drama? Can they co-exist? Today, the answer is yes! Drums will take our students to lands near and far as they use drumming to communicate and celebrate. The ENCORE! Troupe will produce an African Folk Tale program sharing this great heritage. Together, “Drums and Drama” will create a new and vital learning experience for over 250 children in grades 3-5, leading them to exciting explorations in the worlds of music, drama, art history and literacy.
Lead Contact: Cathy S. Melton
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Donna Harper


Pensacola High, Grades 10-12, “Physics is Phun!” (STEM) Students will feel the physics and know that Physics is Phun while seeing and feeling engineering in action! Students have ridden high acceleration twisting and turning rides, but they have not done it while thinking about the physics and engineering that goes into those rides. Most see physics as equations and math, not as roller-coasters. These students will experience a guided opportunity turning abstract mathematical ideas into a concrete, real-world context.
Lead Contact: James Bobbitt
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Beth Partington


Ransom Middle, Grades 6-8, “Whole Brain Food” (STEM and Literacy)
Students often wonder how to connect everyday life with subject matter they learn in schools. This grant will allow students the opportunity to create a more personalized learning environment that enhances the whole brain’s critical thinking, motivation and engagement skills. Students will use Kagan to determine interesting materials and apply relevant themes, their STEM background and LegoWeDo to create movable models, and the Civil War Travel Trunk to bring history to life.
Lead Contact: Lauren Samoszenko
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Kristie Kelley


Scenic Heights Elementary, 1st Grade, “Imagination
Stations” (STEM)
Various imagination centers (maker spaces) provide all levels of abilities with enriching learning experiences. These are collaborative spaces where students come together to design, create and build items through inquiry-based learning. Students will develop decision-making, creativity, cognitive flexibility and critical thinking skills. The goal is to empower students, helping them shift from passive consumers to active creators and innovators.
Lead Contact: Megan Etheredge
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Claire Poirier


A.K. Suter Elementary, Grades K-5, “Level Up With Reading: Empowering Students for Literacy Success” (Literacy)
Have you heard of “DRA?” DRA stands for “Developmental Reading Assessment,” but for students at A.K. Suter, it means much more: D-Develop a love of reading, R-Reading fluency and comprehension improvements, and A-Acquiring new vocabulary. With this grant, students will enjoy a DRA leveled library for years to come filled with a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts not readily available in the home. Meanwhile, teachers benefit from intensive DRA training, maximizing effective strategies in small-group reading instruction. To top it all off, the first ever Family Literacy Night will take place this year to help improve parent involvement in reading, making it a winning grant for all!
Lead Contact: Heather L. McWethy
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Kristin Longley


J. M. Tate High, Grades 9-12, “21st Century Labs for
Millennials” (STEM)
No other department touches more aspects of student achievement than science. If students can get excited about science, as they do when they perform labs with new technology, then students can get excited about engineering, math, and literacy as well. By funding electronic sensors, students in all science courses can collect data from different lab settings directly to their Chromebooks. This gives students more time to analyze results, complete lab reports, and strengthen their written and critical thinking skills. It’s the 21st century, and millennials at Tate High are saying goodbye to their grandparents’ (and maybe even their parents’) technology with new electronic sensors funded by this grant.
Lead Contact: Cynthia Murphy
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Kristie Kelley


Ernest Ward Middle, Grades 6-8, “STEM in the GYM EWMS Survivors’ Series” (STEM)
Running laps around a school track for a grade is one thing, but running cross-country because your physical education class instilled a love of running outdoors is every P.E. teacher’s dream…until that dream turns into a nightmare. One of their cross-country students is stranded in the wilderness! There’s nothing to drink but non-potable water all around. How would the student avoid dehydration? Thanks to this grant, students at Ernest Ward will not only gain STEM and literacy skills by conducting water purification experiments and writing lab reports using the PEEL strategy, they will also learn a skill that could save their lives one day!
Lead Contact: Michelle Thomas
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Adetoun Sanders


Booker T. Washington High, Grades 9-12, “Building a Legacy : the DNA Revolution” (STEAM)
Have you ever heard the expression “student scientists?” It’s the new thing. Students become scientists in their Marine Biology, Biology and even Art classes. They learn and use protocols that real scientists incorporate on real community issues like invasive species. Student scientists pose questions and are inspired by their involvement in real world scientific activism. Now here’s an interesting twist . . . throw in storytelling artwork with the aid of virtual reality and watch student involvement soar!
Lead Contact: Edward Bauer
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Jeremy Tompkins


C.A. Weis Elementary, Grades K-5, “Stories Work for
Us!” (Literacy)
At C.A. Weis, every student benefits from this grant! Imagine hearing students say, “This is boring,” or “I can’t read that,” or “I can’t find anything interesting to read.” This grant changes all that! By purchasing online content-rich reading material from all literary genres, students are exposed to more language, vocabulary, and comprehension learning opportunities…WITHOUT wasting teachers’ valuable time in the classroom searching for appropriate texts within students’ reading range! Taking it one step further, this grant will even allow students to access reading products at home on their Chromebooks, where in some homes, reading resources are typically not available. Now imagine young readers saying, “This is exciting! I love to read!”
Lead Contact: Emy Nutt
“All aBoard!” Liaison: John Pecore


West Florida High, Grades 9-12, “Coins for Koi” (STEM)
In a school-wide collaboration, hundreds of students from multiple disciplines will combine their creative abilities and hands-on participation to design and build a large-scale, living Koi Pond with Coins for Koi. Implemented over the course of two years, the final product will yield an aesthetic and functional ecosystem used by current and future school populations, potentially impacting thousands. Students will dig for shark teeth in the fossil pit, mine microbes and analyze water samples having fun while they increase STEM literacy.
Lead Contact: Shawn P. Walker
“All aBoard!” Liaison: John Pecore


J.H. Workman Middle, Grades 6-8, “Globalization through Scientific and Technical Innovation with an emphasis on Sustainability” (STEM and Literacy)
That’s right. We are traveling the world with Virtual Reality Kits learning about cultures, customs, food, economy, traditions, and relevant real world topics. Get ready for the journey of a lifetime while students continue to research optimal plants for nutritional value in Workman’s Service Learning Garden. Cultural activities and educational opportunities for tolerance and diversity are a vital forum throughout this grant, while students learn sustainable gardening techniques, using technology to document their progress. This worldwide gathering is in full bloom at the spring time harvest where students make a donation to Manna Food Bank and create their International Cuisine luncheon. Come one, come all. There’s a place for you at the table of Global Cultures.
Lead Contact: Yohana Durango
“All aBoard!” Liaison: Denise Rosenbloum


2018 Grants for Excellence Committee

  • Dr John Pecore, Chair
    University of West Florida
  • Sandy Edwards
    Escambia County School District (Retired)
  • Linda Harageones
    Escambia County School District (Retired)
  • Denise Rosenbloum
    Louis Rosenbloum, Attorney at Law
  • Adetoun Sanders
    Members First Credit Union of Florida
  • Jeremy Tompkins
    Escambia County School District 

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