CONTACT: Allison Carp

                                                                                                  Brynn Bagot Public Relations
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DALLAS September 13, 2021 – The Junior League of Dallas (JLD) and presenting sponsor Texas Instruments (TI) awarded 41 Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) educators with grants of up to $2,500 each through the annual Grants for Innovative Teaching (GFIT) program. In its history, this JLD Signature Project has impacted nearly 7,000 students and awarded more than $2 million to Dallas ISD educators. It is designed to encourage excellence in education by funding special projects addressing reading and literacy enrichment; diversity; special education; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); or arts and culture enrichment across one or more grade levels. This year, more than $86,000 was distributed to fund deserving educators’ winning projects during a hybrid ceremony held September 1, 2021, at Junior League of Dallas Headquarters and streamed online.

“During my time working on GFIT, I have had the chance to see first-hand the truly incredible programs these Dallas ISD educators have created to engage their students outside of the classroom,” said Harmony Hilton, 2021 – 2022 GFIT Chair. “Each program allows students to receive additional education and awareness on diverse topics that are not typically covered in a textbook, which allows students to explore their personal and creative interests. We are thrilled to award these 41 grants and look forward to watching the success of each program.”

Some of the grants selected include: Voices of Vickery, Building a Better Future, Conversations from the Library Podcast and Building Global Competencies. The projects awarded GFIT grants will provide students with diverse experiences and highlight the innovation of the Dallas ISD educators.

Voices of Vickery is an autobiography project for 4th grade immigrant students at Lee McShan Jr. Elementary, which is located in the diverse Vickery Meadow neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. Students will create an autobiographical vision board that represents their past (family heritage), their present (life in Vickery Meadow, life in 4th grade), and their future (goals, dreams in America).

The goal of Building a Better Future: Smart House will allow creativity to flow through the building of energy efficient houses with renewable components while learning the importance and effects of renewable energy (wind and solar). Students will begin exploring the uses of energy, including mechanical, light, thermal, electrical, and sound energy, as well as identify alternative energy resources such as wind and solar. Once students have understood the above-mentioned standards, they will conduct independent research on the effects of alternative and energy efficient resources on our school, community, state and planet.

Conversations from the Library Podcast was established to promote diverse conversations encompassing literature, culture, and current events throughout Townview’s multidisciplinary community and introduce students to tech and media literacy. This program was developed for a wider and more diverse student population and will be used to provide dedicated tools to students interested in literature, media production and communication. A space is being dedicated to recording the podcast in the library, which entails purchasing recording equipment and editing software; virtual students currently record interviews via Zoom, and on-campus learners share a singular microphone connected to a student’s smartphone. The podcast encourages students to critically engage with the information learned in academic settings and everyday life to enhance interpersonal communication skills. Rapid Fire Recs, 15-minute student-led episodes, and community interviews hosted by the librarian.

Building Global Competencies: A Journey Through the Middle East, led by Mr. William Adkins, has been funded for its Global Competency project via “Fund for Teachers.” He is asking for funding to meet the goals of building strength in recognizing and embracing one’s global citizenship, recognizing and empathizing with multiple perspectives, developing the ability to communicate across cultures and creating the ability and desire to take action as a global citizen. This project will address each of these four learning goals through a variety of creative activities and community discourse using three separate projects that are multidisciplinary.

“Each year, it is an honor for the League to recognize the great work Dallas ISD educators are doing. They are truly leading the way,” said Leslie Mba, Texas Instruments Senior Counsel and JLD Signature Project Vice President. “Thanks to consistent support from our donors, we are able to make this happen.”


The Junior League of Dallas cultivates leaders who collectively address the critical needs of the community. Founded in 1922, the JLD is one of the largest Junior Leagues in the world, as well as the largest and oldest training organization for women in Dallas. Active members range in age from 22 to 49 with approximately 85% percent of women employed outside of the home. The JLD provides leadership opportunities to nearly 5,000 women each year through more than 26,000 cumulative hours of experiential and formal training. Uniquely member-run, the JLD provides over 130,000 hours in volunteer service and approximately $1 million in funding to area nonprofits each year. For more information, please visit www.jldallas.org or Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.


The Dallas Independent School District is continually preparing its more than 145,000 students for college or a career. The district offers a competitive mix of innovative programs, choice programs and instructional initiatives that support the increased academic achievement and the social and emotional development of its students. To learn more, visit www.dallasisd.org.


2021 – 2022 Dallas ISD Grant Recipients

Project Name School Educator Name
“Multiplying Mastery: More Students Mastering More Skills”     Anson Jones Elementary Stephanie Geoghegan
“Building Global Competencies: A Journey Through the Middle East” Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy William Adkins
“Thing that Goes” Barbara Jordan Elementary Lynn DeFord
“Redefining Virtual Learning by Creating a Virtual Reality Lab” Bryan Adams High School Jose Delgado
“Whistle While You Woodwork” Cesar Chavez Chaka Broughton
“Free to be Me Task Boxes” Chapel Hill Preparatory Keesha Graves
“Creating collaborative partnerships through robotics” Dallas ISD Megan Vance, Jonathon Hollins
“Hydroponics for Montessorians” Eduardo Mata Montessori Elementary Blanca Vazquez
“Nature Play Project: Connecting Students to Nature” Environmental Education Center Sara Ramirez
“It’s not a mistake, it’s my art” Frank Guzick Elementary Brandy Verseckes
“Let’s Talk About Books” Frederick Douglass Elementary Naylee Azad
“Taming the tiger within” G W Truett Elementary Sue Mendoza
“Do Re Me Fa So Many Books” George Herbert Walker Bush Elementary School James Peerson
“21st Century Differentiated Instruction” George W Truett Elementary Natecia James
“A Differentiated 21st Century Classroom” George W Truett Elementary Elma Martinez
“Flexible seating helps me focus” George W Truett Elementary Jennifer Belchi Segura
“The Hillcrest Print Workshop” Hillcrest High School Emily Ponchelle
“D.A.N.C.E. Foundations: The ES.T.E.A.M.(ed) Dancer(s)” Hulcy STEAM Middle School Whitley Green
“Mindfulness Matters at Jill Stone” Jill Stone Elementary Marisa Negron
“K-1 Future Coding Engineers Learning with STEAM” John J. Pershing Elementary Jose Armendariz
“Rhythm Masters” Kleberg Sara Cox
“Extra! Extra! Tune in on Hawks TV!” L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary School Amy Drury
“Voices of Vickery” Lee McShan Jr. Elementary Arianna Zeb
“Let’s Grow Together” Mockingbird Elementary Stephanie Cantu
“Drone Video Center” Multiple Career Magnet Center 18+ District Community Program Michael Haskins
“Inspiring Calendars for Nursing Home Residents” Multiple Careers Magnet Center Thelma Benavides
“Coding Club” N.W. Harllee Norma Pardee
“Garden Club” Nathaniel Hawthorne Elementary Rebecca Ajuluchukwu
“Robots and Robots” Ronald E. McNair Elementary Dorcas Kassebaum
“Inventing with LittleBits” Rosemont Elementary Upper Campus Jeanette Sambucetti
“Read Across Burleson” Rufus C. Burleson Elementary School Prescilla Ndjana
“The Sex Lives of Slime Molds – Mysteries Exposed with Microbiology” School of Science and Engineering David McLoda
“The School on Walmsley Ave” Sidney Lanier Expressive Arts Vanguard Madison Groves
“Digital Art Classroom” Sidney Lanier Expressive Arts Vanguard Albalicia Espino


“Connecting Cultures: Cultural Collage Self-Portraits”


Sunset High School


Gianna LoScerbo-Starkus

“Building a Better Future: Smart House” The School for the Talented and Gifted in Pleasant Grove Beatriz Bustamante
“Marsh Matador Makerspace” Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy Heather Dunlap
“A Commedia Christmas Carol” Thomas Jefferson High School Dallas ISD Yvonne Duque
“STEMconnect + WaterFIRST Robotics Camps” Woodrow Wilson HS Academy of Engineering Dan Garrison
“Conversations from the Library Podcast” Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center Melissa Cunningham
“Hope” Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School Youngsun Choi