The Parents’ Association is proud to sponsor annual Teacher Curriculum Grants, which seek to stimulate innovation in our classrooms.  The PA and each of its School Councils have a limited budget for these types of grants, but we strive to fund as many projects as possible.  Projects that have a strong component of hands-on, experiential learning — the “Dewey Way” — are often favored.

Specifically, the intent of these projects should foster community spirit by engaging members of our Lab community and support the School’s educational, social, behavioral or health objectives.  Grants may also support extracurricular activities including clubs, interscholastic competitions, intramural sports or the arts or support programs that require a school-home collaboration for their success.

The PA and each of its School Councils have a limited budget for these types of grants, but we strive to award as many projects as possible. Proposals will be considered and grants determined by the appropriate School Council or the PA Board in conjunction with school leadership.

In the 2016-17 Academic Year the PA introduced for the first time a Community Service Grant for the Lower School and Earl Shapiro Hall Councils.  These grants were wholly funded from BoxTops Collection, so that even classrooms who may not be involved with the grant can contribute to its goal of encouraging curiosity, empathy, and citizenship in the community beyond school walls.

Thank you to all the faculty who submitted grant proposals.  We were greatly impressed by the ingenuity and thoughtfulness expressed without exception in these proposals.

Teacher Grant Summaries 2016-17

Lower School Community Service Grant

  • Linda Weide (4th grade) received a grant of $250 to allow four LS classrooms (Weide, Mitzenmacher, Sukenic and Ruelas) to stage a fundraising campaign to assist Refugee One in relocating a Syrian refugee family to Hyde Park. The grant was used to purchase materials which students used to made holiday gifts ranging from jewelry, hats, scarves and cardboard toys. These items were then sold as part of an overall campaign to raise enough funds to sponsor the family.
  • Stephanie Mitzenmacher (5th grade) received a grant of $250 to work with watercolor artist Etab Hrieb to collaborate with four LS classrooms.  Together, they will create a public art installation that would raise awareness for refugee resettlement.

ESH Community Service Grant

  • Elspeth Stowe-Grant (Kindergarten) was awarded $400 to allow two classrooms to travel to the Cradles to Crayons warehouse.  In a hands-on activity, students will gather and sort donated items as well as fulfill wish lists for children who lack the resources to obtain basic items such as school supplies or winter coats.
  • Lauryn Marinho’s 2nd Grade Classroom received a $100 stipend for yarn to produce student-made scarves and hats.  These items will be donated to a local homeless agency to reach individuals in need this winter.

Teacher Curriculum Grants

These grants are funded entirely by Parents’ Association annual dues.


  • Dan Wheadon: Awarded $720 to fund Computer Science students to build monitoring devices for the PACER test, to be used by all UHigh students during fitness testing.
  • Michelle Morales Miles: Awarded $100 to purchase vinyl musical records for the Vinyl Listening Center.  This purchase will enable all UHigh students to study additional forms of auditory media.
  • Daniel Jones: Awarded $480 to upgrade and enhance the High School Biology aquarium by purchasing LED lighting technology and expanding potential environmental studies.
  • Francisco Dean: Awarded $400 to provide gear to support the Traveling Technology project.  This grant will broaden the capabilities of the existing UHigh Digital Orchestra students to share their work outside the classroom.


  • Matt Landa: Awarded $800 to develop a multi-day, multi-phase project to support stress management skills for all Middle School students.  This interactive installation Is intended to increase awareness of the impact of stress, to normalize the challenges of dealing with stress, and to provide concrete ideas for limiting its negative impact.
  • Tad Andracki: Awarded $538 to provide seed money for a Paper Arts Makerspace as part of MS Library Programming.  All Middle School students will benefit from this infusion of scientific elements with traditional literacy arts.
  • Ryan Hudec:  Awarded $200 to provide equipment to promote maintenance and upkeep of brass instruments.  All Band students, from 5th grade through High School, will be taught how to become autonomous in the upkeep of their instruments.
  • Thomas Luthy: Awarded $160 to provide tools in strategic thinking and negotiation to support the MS Diplomacy Club.
  • Gina Alicea: Awarded $890 to bring the Von Orthal puppetry artists to school to develop a robust puppetry program that will span both art and drama rotations in 6th grade.  As they rotate, all 6th grade students will have access to these artists as they develop their skills in creating unique, animated characters.


  • Allison Beaulieu: Awarded $482 to include circuits and LEDs and thereby expand the foundational materials for the Lower School Maker Space, a collaboration between the arts and science programs for 3rd and 4th grade students.  These materials are intended to spark greater creativity both in and outside the classroom.
  • Ginger Philips:  Awarded $500 to develop hands-on activities in eco-literacy, using composting as an entry point.  3rd grade homerooms will partner with MS to further explore how students can engage and model sustainable practices.
  • Lisa Sukenic: Awarded $500 to provide students in select 4th and 5th Grade homerooms with ongoing access to Poet-in-Residence, John Rybicki.  Through multiple one-day workshops, this approach will assist students in developing a long term relationship that will result in deeper revisions, publication submissions, and public performances — creating a more meaningful “Poetry Footprint” throughout the University of Chicago Campus.
  • Brandy Wales: Awarded $280 to provide 280 3rd and 4th grade Computer Science students with additional learning tools (“Dash & Dot” robots) to further develop computational thinking and problem solving.  This hands-on learning tool will connect robotics to computer science and spur developmentally appropriate programming skills.
  • Jessica Zwaska: Awarded $200 to jumpstart a parent-focused library for the Lower School Learning and Counseling Department. This resource library would be available to all LS parents who may be in need of additional support or education on a variety of topics.
  • Jamelle St. Clair: Awarded $550 for kente stoles to costume the Lower School Martin Luther King Choir for their candlelight procession and performance.  These stoles would create continuity and belonging year over year for students participating in the choir, which has become an integral part of the celebration to honor Martin Luther King.
  • Mikki Sanders: Awarded $250 to add a Cri-cut paper cutting machine to the Lower School STEAM workshop build-out. The Workshop will be a place where all Lower School students, teachers, and families can create together using hand tools and power tools, electronics, technology, sewing, crafts, legos, and more.


  • Meredith Dodd: Awarded $250 to support a parent workshop titled: “Learning about Individual and Group Identity.”  The workshop will create a dialogue among teachers, parents, and students around the topic of identity construction in early childhood through adulthood; at least two Nursery/Kindergarten classrooms will prepare arts-based materials along these themes.
  • Erica Lee: Awarded $1500 to bring a visiting, acclaimed magician and educator (“Mario the Magician”) that specific uses “maker” techniques to inspire all Primary School (1st & 2nd grade) students and faculty.  The performance would expose students to additional methods and the wide range of possibilities enabled by the makerspace.
  • Ana Romero: Awarded $500 to fund a teaching artist (musician Carlos Cornier) visit so that all Primary School students may explore the art of drumming, as part of an overall project for 2nd graders to design and construct of their own drums and musical instruments.
  • Lisa Harrison: Awarded $1275 to integrate computational thinking and technology to the Nursery/Kindergarten curriculum via KIBO robots. Children program the robots to follow simple commands in sequence (a program) using wooden blocks, not iPad or computer screens. The tools encourage open-ended play while developing the vocabulary and process skills in younger students.
  • Spike Wilson: Awarded $250 to sponsor a poetry workshop for Primary School classrooms to expand students’ knowledge about civil rights.   Quraysh Ali Lansana is a local poet whose work combines history and race, and would introduce ideas and vocabulary to begin a developmentally appropriate dialogue about civil rights in the United States.

For a summary of our 2015-2016 grants, please see our Annual Report.