February 26, 2018

Each year, Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) offers teachers and staff in the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) the opportunity to apply for funds through the Innovative Grants Program to implement new and creative approaches to teaching and counseling. The purpose of this grant program is to support innovation in schools by awarding funds to implement new curriculum and improve the educational experiences of students. The program in total will award 19 projects and over $160,000 in grant monies this year to support innovative teaching methods in schools.

This year, IPSF awarded eight (8) mega grants, up to $20,000 each, to provide educators an opportunity to create an even greater impact on their schools and classrooms through innovation. IPSF made surprise visits to mega grant recipients’ schools, presenting big checks during assemblies, fire drills and in the classrooms. Projects awarded included Innovation Labs, a district-wide mental health program, a forensic science program for high school students, and a career certification program.

“In order to prepare our student for the future, we must provide them with educational opportunities that give them hands-on experiences and skills that they can apply to real world applications,” explains. Neda Eaton, President & CEO of Irvine Public Schools Foundation. “We are so proud to support IUSD instructors who are passionate about elevating our students’ learning far beyond standard academic curriculum. We are also thankful to our community and sponsors who help make these grants possible for our students.”

All recipients were recognized at a reception on Monday, February 26 at TAPS Fish House & Brewery in Irvine. Since 1996, IPSF has awarded over $1.5 million to teachers and counselors, benefiting over 150,000 students since the program’s inception. 



Elementary School Awards

Deerfield Elementary School
Flock Together Student Leadership
Amber Smith
Helps develop skills in leadership and servanthood by connecting students to service-learning opportunities, at their school and in the community.

Greentree Elementary School
Project SOAR
Tamara Brown, Stephanie Frazier & Patricia Hanes
Provides technological tools through the school’s Media Center to create opportunities for students to innovate, collaborate, and connect learning experiences to class curriculum.

Plaza Vista Elementary School
Breaking in to Breakout EDU
Hope Benzie & Elizabeth Walsh
Enhances student engagement by using immersive learning games to develop teamwork and critical thinking skills through solving a series of challenging puzzles.

Portola Springs Elementary School
Flash Forward
Stormy Allen
Addresses cyber citizenship, digital literacy, and STEAM learning by teaching students how to safely thrive while doing educational projects in an online environment.

Santiago Hills Elementary School
Make My Space
Kathie Wilhelm
Provides students a makerspace to apply their critical thinking skills through tinkering, playing, experimenting, expressing, and collaborating to solve STEAM challenges.

Stone Creek Elementary School
Full STEAM Ahead!
Francheska Anderson, Christina Pierson & Klara Saunders
Enhances existing innovation lab by providing relevant technology and hands-on engineering materials to deepen student thinking and problem-solving skills.

Stonegate Elementary School
Innovate and Create with mBot!
Kristen Keegan
Incorporates tools in the elementary classroom, such as Robots Kits and mBot, to provide engineering-based STEM experiences that will inspire young engineers.

Woodbury Elementary School
Build Today, Lead Tomorrow – Innovative Instruction for 21st Century Learners
Michelle Blanco, Jessica Mossbarger, Julie Siff & Teresa Yau
Aims to provide engaging, project-based learning experiences for students through the addition of a STEAM Lab.

Middle School Awards

Jeffrey Trail Middle School
J.E.T.setters (JET=Joining Everyone Together)
Julianne Jong & Michelle Trapp
Program designed to cultivate and maintain a school culture where all students and families feel welcome and connected  to the school and the community.

Rancho San Joaquin Middle School
Be Nice to People
Arushi Goonewardene & Ashley Wolford
Initiative that recognizes students who have demonstrated kindness towards others.

Rancho San Joaquin Middle School
Enhancing Student Learning Through Technology
Mike Modeer
Provides students the skills and practice necessary to appropriately access technology tools, navigate virtual learning environments, and work collaboratively with other students through the use of Chromebooks. This grant is funded by IPSF in partnership with GoogleFiber.

Venado Middle School
Mission to Mars: Remote Sensing Technology
Karen Fisher
Provides students the opportunity to explore the relationship between humans, the environment, and our responsibility to find sustainable solutions to global issues.

High Schools Awards

Northwood High School
Forensics Core Program
Sandy Banks, Mickey Dickson & Phil Roh
A hands-on, transdisciplinary program consisting of three courses (Forensic Science, Forensic Psychology and Critical Theory & Literature) for high school students.

University High School
Implementing Industry Certifications and Internships/Apprenticeships into Engineering Career and Technical Education (CTE) Pathway
Tinh Tran
Program to develop college and career readiness skills for high school students through industry certification exams and internship and apprenticeship opportunities.

District-Wide Awards

IUSD Prevention & Intervention
Building Lifelong Resiliency
Sunghie Okino
Extends Second Step, an evidence-based, social-emotional learning curriculum, to pre-school, middle, and high school students.

IUSD Special Programs
Meditation Stations
Tracy Overly
Program designed to help special education students learn how to utilize meditation, yoga, and sensory tools to regulate their own emotions.

IUSD STEM Department
Star Lab
Kristen Winn
Provides all elementary and middle school students a star lab projector to learn about astronomy and earth sciences. The StarLab is funded by IPSF in partnership with Microsemi.

IUSD Elementary Wind Specialists
Clarinet Kick-Off
Hee Jeong Przytulski
Provides 5th and 6th grade students the opportunity to study under a world-class clarinet clinician to inspire and motivate them in their music endeavors.

Legacy Education Center
Chrome Books for Community Independence
Ray Bueche
Helps students with intellectual and developmental disabilities develop skills needed to find and maintain employment through the use of Chromebooks.

Order PATS to Support Innovative Teaching Grants