Mat-Su Schools Foundation
         Quality in Education...

In 2023 the Mat-Su Schools Foundation awarded twelve $1000 Durham School Services Grants, one $1000 Gorilla Fireworks Grant for Houston Middle School teachers only and one for Houston High teachers only. The winners with the following grants requests were awarded up to $1000.

Amber Hays, Valley Pathways - VPS Shop Class
"This grant will go towards purchasing supplies for projects in our brand new shop class. Valley Pathways is in the beginning stages of developing our first CTE class and are scrounging up tools, wood and supplies to make tables for the "shop" room. We are hoping to give our students an opportunity to acquire skills that make them hirable straight out of high school. Essentially, our students are building the shop they will be working in!"

Paula Berg, Swanson Elementary - Instruments and Professional Development
"I am seeking a grant to enhance my musical education initiative, which involves facilitating the mobility of xylophone bass bars and attending the Teaching Guitar Workshop. This project aims to create a dynamic and enriching learning environment for students.

To achieve this, I intend to acquire four specialized carts designed to transport xylophone bass bars effortlessly within a room. These carts will not only streamline the setup process but also enable smooth transitions during interactive music sessions. The improved accessibility to the instruments will foster a more engaging and versatile learning experience for participants of all ages.

Additionally, I aspire to participate in the Teaching Guitar Workshop to further enhance my teaching skills and repertoire. This workshop aligns perfectly with my commitment to delivering high-quality music education. By refining my instructional techniques, I can better guide students in developing their musical talents and fostering a lifelong appreciation for music.

In sum, this project seeks to combine practical mobility solutions for xylophone bass bars with professional development through the Teaching Guitar Workshop. With the grant's support, I will be better equipped to offer an inclusive, interactive, and effective music education program. The project's impact will extend beyond the classroom, empowering students to explore their reativity and passion for music while gaining valuable skills that can positively influence their overall development.

Krystal Dermmitt, Dena'ina Elementary - New Alaska
"My project is a recycling project within my school. As an elementary school we go through a lot of paper for copies, class projects, etc. and would love to be able to recycle more with the use of recycling bins and information for classrooms on how they can recycle, reduce, and reuse within their classrooms that would hopefully carry over to their students to do at home too."

Julie Ross, Swanson Elementary - Flexible Seating/fine and gross motor development
"This project will allow me to purchase flexible seating and movement/fidget activities or items. I have noticed over the last 23 years the students are entering school farther behind in their gross and fine motor skills. They struggle to sit and focus and follow lessons. I'm finding that I need to come up with creative ways to help them focus and also looking for more tools and activities to work on gross and fine motor skills. In order to reach their full potential I know these things will help. I also know it will help all the K students stay on target and reach the proficient level."

Jessica Clark, Larson Elementary - Self Regulatoin & Brain Activation Stations
"As an occupational therapist, I specialize in maximizing function through motor skills and self regulation. Research shows how access to movement activities support arousal of our senses impacting positive outcomes regarding focus, attention, positive behavior and engagement in academics. Providing students with opportunities for sensory experiences enhances the ability of the central nervous system to process and integrate sensory information. Many schools around our country have implemented motor lab circuits, housed in a classroom or portable. While MSBSD schools do not have access to such space, we do have hallways and specialized classrooms! I hope to create a number of school wide “Self Regulation & Brain Activation tations”, along with assisting teachers in creating calming corners within classrooms.

The school I primarily work in, Larson Elementary houses eight special education programs, four of them being district wide programs. My goal is to provide classrooms who serve a number of students who experience autism, sensory processing disorders, ADHD, behavioral challenges and delayed motor skills to have access to a daily structured motor lab and self regulation equipment. I hope for this grant to fund traveling self regulation tools, which will support our students with their ability to self regulate by using deep breathing strategies, alternative seating, fidgets and items for calming corners within classrooms.

Brain activation stations include movement patterns to promote and facilitate midline crossing, spinning, visual motor and hand eye coordination, which further support a students understanding of body awareness and ability to focus. Brain breaks are essential!"

Jamin Burton, Colony High School - Harmony Director
"If awarded the grant I would use it to purchase a harmony director. A harmony director is a specific kind of keyboard which automatically transposes all of the parts in a band score for the various keys so that all students can hear their parts quickly."

Christine Richey, Butte Elementary - Portable Planetarium Visit
"UAF Geophysical Institute offers portable planetarium visits to schools. We are going to have a schoolwide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) day. Throughout the day all students will engage in STEM activities in their classrooms and each of the 13 classes and preschool groups will participate in one of the Geophysical Institutes' lessons either the Planet Walk, Aurora, or Constellations. We will also have a Title 1 Family Night event with the portable planetarium open for families to experience."

Christina Hardman, Big Lake Elementary - Drums & Boomwhackers - Striking into the Heart of Education
"For many students, music is already one of their favorite classes. While adding a beautiful tubano drum and 6 sets of boomwhackers will create a more colorful and vibrant classroom, these tools are not just for decoration or appeal. Accessing good quality instruments allows our classroom to implement the instruments in our focus to build reading skills and collaboration among peers."

Chris Stewart, Dena'ina Elementary - All Kids on Skis
"I am requesting assistance to procure funds to purchase ski attachments to my fleet of Strider bikes. I would like to be able to take all students on my school's cross country ski trails. I have ski equipment for my older students, but am not able to provide enough assistance to take my younger students out on the trails. The ski attachments would allow me to begin introducing my younger students to our trail system, and better prepare them physically and mentally for outdoor winter activities."

Charles Carte, Burchell High School - Music for All
"We seek funding to bring the benefits of music to Burchell High by acquiring a piano for our media center. Despite a lack of music programs, many students, including alternative learners, have a strong passion for music, particularly piano. Our goal is to harness the power of music as a tool for cognitive development, creativity, and stress relief. Our diverse student body includes alternative learners who often find traditional teaching methods challenging. Music has the potential to engage them uniquely, aiding focus and self-expression. The communal piano will create a hub for musical exploration during breaks, study sessions, and extracurricular activities, fostering collaboration and a sense of belonging. Presently, both students and staff lack an outlet for creative expression and relaxation through music. With your funding, we can purchase a quality piano and designate a dedicated space in the media center. This initiative aligns with our commitment to holistic education, nurturing various talents. In essence, our proposal seeks to enrich Burchell High with a piano that will empower students, promote emotional well-being, and create an inclusive, lasting impact. By supporting us, you enable the establishment of a musical legacy that resonates throughout our school community."

Annika Amato, Wasilla High - Bluetooth Headphones for Voyager Sopris Curriculum
"I would like to purchase 16 Bluetooth headphones with microphone and charging capabilities for my students who access curriculum with a headset. I teach English/ Language Arts and Math with a blended learning model. Our curriculum for math and English uses an online component requiring students to record their voice and receive feedback. Many of our students are of low socioeconomic status and have a difficult time bringing headphones to class. My class set of 8-10 headphones is tired. The set requires plugging into the computer. The wires come loose from use and my students with orthopedic challenges have difficulty moving around once they are plugged into their school issued Cromebooks. Bluetooth headphones with microphone capability offer increased mobility. I would like to purchase the COOSII H300 Over Ear Environmental noise cancelling Retractable Mic USB Dongle Mute headphones from Amazon for $59.99 for each pair. They seem robust and are easily cleaned. Charging capability is key as we do not have funds for batteries."

Mary Sanford, Houston Middle School - Houston High School and Houston Middle School Tennis Club
"Houston Middle and High School Tennis Club
The goal is to:
1) Promote physical, mental, and social fitness through the sport of tennis.
2) Enthusiastically present tennis as a "sport for life". Anyone can learn and play tennis even into
     old age!
3) Lay the foundation to begin a Houston High School Varsity Boys' and Girls' Tennis Program      within two years."

Janelle Maki, Houston High School - Library Collection Development
"The HHS library, in preparation for moving to our new school, underwent an extensive removal of older, damaged, or unpopular library books from our library collection. We wanted to have the best, newest and up-to-date library collection to put on our new library shelves. We were promised a sizable budget for new books but unfortunately that never materialized. We often have an ongoing list of new book requests that we cannot purchase because of budget restraints. This grant will be used to fulfill those requests so students can have books they want and are excited to read."