Mat-Su Schools Foundation
         Building a foundation for education...

Grant Recipients

2020 First Student Teacher Grants

Amanda Smith, 5th Grade Teacher, Meadow Lakes Elementary School was awarded a grant for her Health and Safety: First-Aid, Inquiry-Based Learning Project. Amanda writes: "First-Aid skills are essential for youth of all ages to learn, especially those that frequent the Alaskan wilderness. First-Aid is a topic covered in the health curriculum, The Great Body Shop, and is a topic that students in my 5th grade classroom became immediately engaged in. Students were curious about various First-Aid and CPR (a topic mentioned but not taught in the curriculum) skills, they had many questions, and shared a great deal of knowledge of basic First-Aid, as well. The Great Body Shop teaches 4 lessons of basic "First-Aid Facts", however, students initiated taking their learning to a deeper level through their level of engagement, questioning, curiosity, and research. The topic of First-Aid has expanded beyond the basic facts and information the curriculum provides. This inquiry-based project has become hands-on, providing students with opportunities to learn relevant skills pertinent to First-Aid. Students have practiced putting on and properly removing medical gloves, demonstrated fullunderstanding of emergency response steps determining which emergencies they are able to handle and which they cannot, and have demonstrated knowledge of how to properly care for minor burns, allergic reactions (through the use of an EpiPen training device), minor cuts, bloody noses, and poisoning. The project continues to engage students through hands-on experiences, which will include students participating in an unofficial First-Aid certication, demonstration of CPR skills and when to use it, and researching the contents of a First-Aid kit and the use for each item. Finally, each student will create a First-Aid kit with all of the necessary supplies needed to perform First-Aid in an emergency situation. Upon completion, students will take their completed First-Aid kits home, to keep."

Stephanie Udy, Librarian at Cottonwood Creek Elementary School was awarded a grant for her "Library for All - inside and outside" project. Stephanie described the project: "Our project is making relative books accessible to students in many ways. The first part is placing a "Little Free Library" outside the school that families are able to visit and take a book home. This will be stocked through purchases and donations. Inside, our school library collection is in need of a big update. The average publication date of our books is 1993, with only 8% of our books published after 2014. In addition, our collection has more 4th and 5th grade reading level books than any other. To make reading more accessible, we need to add to our 1st-3rd grade reading levels and interests."

Amy Ehmann, 4th Grade Teacher at Pioneer Peak Elementary School was awarded a grant for her Ergonomics in the Classroom Project which will impact all three classes of 4th graders. Amy describes her project: "Our school has shifted to an online learning curriculum due to the current COVID pandemic. We are now a 1:1 school. Students have limited areas to sit in our classrooms which promote proper posture. They can easily sit at their desk but must wear a mask when in their pod. These portable desks would allow students to easily move around the room to maintain a six-foot distance between classmates. They would be able to have their laptop at a more appropriate ergonomic level to help them actively engage in the new online curriculum.

2018 Teacher Grants

The Gorilla Fireworks $1000 Grant was awarded to Lance Swick, PE teacher at Houston Middle School for the restoration and upgrade of equipment with the purchase of new volleyballs, basketballs and playground balls.

The Mat-Su Schools Foundation Grants were awarded to four district teachers. Congratulations to:

Cheryl Williams, science teacher at Palmer High School, was awarded $1000 for her "Things are Looking Up - Drone Powered Data Collection" project. Cheryl said that drones can do more than deliver your pizza or spy on your neighbors! Having a top notch drone will allow students to investigate river bank erosion, document seasonal changes, study air, water and soil pollution sources, map the invasion of non-native plants, estimate migratory bird populations and many more student designed and led investigations. Drone technology is now a powerful tool in data collection. Biology and environmental science students will use the drone to investigate and collect data for projects that they design. Partners include the University of Montana (Clean Air and Healthy Homes Project) and GLOBE. All "drone driven" projects assist our STEM focused curriculum at PHS. The drone will be available for students to use without additional costs for multiple school years.

Rebecca Menzia, Elementary Music Specialist at Snowshoe Elementary School, was awarded $837.55 for her Trailblazer Melodica Program. The melodica was originally invented in Germany for the purpose of teaching children music. It is a small, durable, hand held wind instrument with piano keys. The instrument is played by simply blowing into the mouthpiece and pressing the keys, and has an instantly gratifying sound. Rebecca's plan is to purchase a class set of melodicas to incorporate into Snowshoe's music education curriculum. These instruments will last for many years and the mouthpieces are easy to remove and disinfect.

Constance Service teaches at Big Lake Elementary School and was awarded $1000 to help her students experience Alaska. The fourth-grade classes at Big Lake Elementary are planning an overnight field trip to Seward. The trip includes a hike to Ressurection Bay to see Alaskan landforms first hand. Students will then spend the night in the Sea Life Center and participate in two classes which cover Marine Mammal Adaptations and Cephlapods. The following day students visit the Alaska Native Heritage Museum to see authentic housing of the native cultures. The trip reinforces their science and Alaska studies curriculum.

Emily Spears, art teacher at Academy Charter, was awarded $1000 for carving tools, print surface, rollers, and matte boards for her "Printmaking for Community Development" program. K-12th grade students learned about the history and famous artists of historical and modern print-making. They created prints while journeying through the process individually of plan, draw, carve, ink, print, hang. Students work influenced them individually as well as their larger community through art show and hangings in the community. Students learned the tactile therapeutic art of printmaking with the intention of sharing the art with the community. Some of their prints are hanging in the MSBSD Adm building.


2017 Teacher Grants

Gorilla Fireworks 2017

Grant recipient Kristopher Wagoner of Houston High School was awarded $1000 for the Houston High School Spirit Shop. Business Skills students will focus on creating, marketing, and distributing items that help build the spirit of Houston High School. Students will create individual project proposals, and be granted seed money needed to carry out their plan. Students will be required to pay back their seed money before they can earn money for their account, whether that be for a sport they are involved it, a club or other on campus activity.

2016 Teacher Grants

2015 Gorilla Fireworks Grant

They will be purchasing 15 new Wenger student chairs.

2015 Teacher Grants

2014 Grant Recipients:
Teacher Grants

2014 Gorilla Fireworks Grant awarded to:

2013 Grant Recipients:
Teacher Grant

cast and crew"We are so grateful for the money bestowed on us from the Mat-Su School’s Foundation. Thirty-four kids participated in Romeo and Juliet and over 350 community members came to the show. That makes for a lot Shakespeare in one small town. We made enough money to be self-sufficient from now on. The best part of the experience, of course, is spending the day reading and rereading the greatest writer in the English language, and collaborating with students in an organic and holistic way. This undertaking was one of the richest of my teaching career." - Kathy Trump, Su-Valley High teacher

“After receiving the role of Juliet, I was sculpted into character by my costume designer, vocal coach, and goddess of a director. I am honored to have been given the role, and I will remember the warmth of the stage lights for many years to come.”
- Senior Emily Hartley, Juliet

"Thank you Mat-Su Schools Foundation! It took a while for our Legos to arrive, but they were worth the wait. My students were completely engaged the last hour of Friday afternoon-a miracle :) "

"In our first lesson, I read a short story to my students, and then I asked them to build something that would express the theme of the story. After they completed their theme construction, they shared and explained their models to their classmates. They loved it! "When can we do this again?" was asked as soon as we completed the activity. Thank you so much!" - Marcy Farris, Finger Lake Elementary 5th grade teacher

2013 Gorilla Fireworks Grant awarded to:

2012 Grant Recipients:

2012 Gorilla Fireworks Houston School Grant

2011 Grant Recipients:

2011 Grant Recipients:
Connie Bamburg -- Fronteras Spanish Immersion Charter School -- reading "phonics      phones"
Carrie Day -- Wasilla Middle School -- after-school program materials
Diony Tribble -- Burchell High School -- robotics materials
Misty Holler -- Academy Charter School -- community portrait/biography materials
Michelle Booth -- Academy Charter School -- "Where in the World" geography      materials
Jared Schumacher -- Academy Charter School -- avalanche awareness science unit      equipment
Debbie Melton -- Machetanz Elementary -- emergent readers library books

2011 $1,000 Gorilla Fireworks Grant:
Kris Wagoner, Houston High School -- Business Professionals of America Club

2010 Grant Recipients:

2010 $1000 Gorilla Fireworks Grant:
Janelle Maki, Houston High School -- Graphic Novels for the Library

2009 Grant Recipients:

2010 Greenhouse Production Class
The first step: Glacier View High School students did a market analysis for what plants are in demand for the surrounding community. The data was then analyzed, a budget developed and a plan was made for producing plant starts.

The second step: the class designed and built a greenhouse using Mat-Su Schools Foundation grant funds. The greenhouse will also be utilized for science classes for students in elementary, middle and high school levels.

See greenhouse building slideshow

In the end, the students wrote a summary of their experiences. Many thought learning how to use the budge was the most meaningful part of the class. Others felt the experience of coming to a consensus was important. Lastly, the actual process of building something was new to many student. Some learned how to swing a hammer for the first time.

Glacier View Greenhouse

2009 Project Ocean - Talkeetna Elementary School

Overlooking Kachemak Bay

On behalf of the Talkeetna Elementary School 6th grade, I want to thank
you for your generous support of our 2009 Project Ocean field studies.
Thanks to your financial assistance, our students were able to experience
five wonderful days in Kachemak Bay. Thank you so much. Project Ocean Report

Joe Page, Teacher
Talkeetna Elementary School

2009 Native Alaska Drums and Kuspuks - Meadow Lakes Elementary School

Meadow Lakes Elementary School purchased material to make Eskimo drums and kuspuks to perform a musical history of Alaska to celebrate our 50th Anniversary of statehood. Performing native Alaskan songs using drums and kuspucks was a highlight for the students.

Each student at Meadow Lakes used the drums during class and we continue to use them as we learn more about the native musical culture. We were invited to sing at the Champions for Children banquet at Evangelos on May 8th where the students will get to perform with the drums and kuspucks. We are also working with the District Federal Programs to bring James Afcan out to Meadow Lakes and teach the students more about native drumming. The Miracle Dance group will be coming out to do an assembly for us at the end of the year.
As you can see, with the generous support of people like you, the students have had a hands-on learning experience that will continue to benefit them throughout their education at Meadow Lakes.

Thank you again for your support of education in the Mat-Su Valley.
Paula Davies, Music Teacher
Meadow Lakes Elementary

Article from MSBSD Inside newsletter/magazine

Click to enlarge photos...

Fatal Vision Goggles for Colony High School

Thank you for the grant money that allowed me to purchase the Fatal Vision goggles for CHS. I made these available to the staff and parent and student groups. Several teachers used the goggles and accompanying data and lesson plans in their classrooms. There was an article in the school newspaper about the Fatal Vision goggles and their purpose. Featured Article in Knightly News

Using the Fatal Vision GogglesI have had numerous students come to me with their stories of how this program has impacted them, and other students who are curious as to what this is all about. They wanted to experience the impact of the goggles for themselves. This has created wonderful teaching moments about the effects of alcohol consumption, and some of the dangers involved. Even the students are participating in the teaching - one student presented a project to her class using the goggles and materials.

I think this was a very good use of grant money. Fatal Vision is a program that every high school would benefit from.

Karen James, RN
Colony High School

Seward Sealife Trip - Shaw Elementary School

Wow! What an adventure we had on our May 18-19, 2009 Seward
Field Trip! The weather couldn't have been more perfect and the adult-student ratio was ideal—14 adults to 26 students! ... trip details

Lynda Chud and Jana DePriest
4/5 multiage teachers at Shaw Elementary School

Click to enlarge photos...
On the water... Exit Glacier
Sea Life Center Closer Look