RRISD awards Innovative School Grants to 24 schools

Round Rock ISD has awarded Innovative School Grants to 24 District campuses, challenging the winning schools to explore, enrich or design an exemplary model of innovation to serve students and the community.

Funded through general operating fund balance set aside for Innovative School Grants, the grants, totaling $2 million, were awarded through an internal application and interview process. The grants, ranging from $47,000 to $100,000, align with Goal 1 of the RRISD Strategic Plan, which states “we will implement, enhance and support innovative teaching and learning models.”

“After witnessing the positive impact our first year of Innovative School Grants have made, we can share in the excitement that this initiative will continue to provide campuses with opportunities to develop their academic culture and resources further,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Flores said. “We will continue to make Round Rock ISD the Destination District for Public Schools by allowing our campuses to dream big and take action.”

The Innovative School Grants consist of three tiers — Tier I: Explore, Tier II: Enrich and Tier III: Exemplar.

Tier I grants provide up to $50,000 over a one-year period to allow a campus to investigate and explore an innovative practice or model within a small scope. The one-year period provides the campuses an opportunity to determine the effectiveness and sustainability of the learning model.

In addition to the grants, eleven campuses were awarded honorable mention, which came with an award of $6,000 to spend on innovative flexible furniture.

The following schools received Tier I grants ranging from $47,671 to $50,000:

Callison Elementary School: Four Houses, One Family, $50,000
With this grant, Callison Elementary will focus on an innovative approach to education and engage all students to have high academic standards as well as pride in themselves and their school. A “House” system where all students are assigned to a “House” or group for the rest of their time on campus will be implemented. These “Houses” form a family and students work hard to for one another and acknowledge each other for their accomplishments. The “Houses” are a positive group activity creating a sense of family for each student and helps give them an identity and purpose.

Canyon Vista Middle School: SANSSpace Live Mobile World Language Lab: Providing an Interactive Virtual World Language Lab to Foster 21st Century Communication, $49,396
Canyon Vista will develop world-class leaders by improving students communication skills, exposing students to world cultures and providing opportunities to learn two or more languages. The SANSSpace Live Mobile World Language Lab will provide students the opportunity to engage in flexible student-centered learning with authentic cultural resources. The Mobile World Language Lab will help teachers develop, manage and deliver rich multimedia course content.

Forest North Elementary School: Eagles Fly High!, $49,612
Through MakerSpace, school-wide enrichment and the outdoor learning space, the students of Forest North Elementary will have equitable learning opportunities to better prepare them for future endeavors and allow them to fly high.

Walsh Middle School: Making Spaces and Places to Utilize MakerSpaces, $47,671
Walsh Middle School will create a MakerSpace Learning Lab and Mobile MakerSpace Labs for students as well as staff. Through MakerSpaces, Walsh is able to support campus STEAM initiatives and critical-thinking TEKS by providing students opportunities for hands-on inquiry and problem solving.

Tier II grants provide up to $100,000 over a one-year period to allow a campus to improve and enhance a current instructional model or design to create a higher quality innovative campus.

The following schools received Tier II grants up to $100,000:

Berkman Elementary Arts Integration Academy: Sustaining, Enriching and Strengthening AIA, $100,000
With this grant, Berkman Elementary Arts Integration Academy will continue to offer and grow its robust after school enrichment program focused on the needs of students including, but not limited to, academic assistance, enrichment opportunities and college and career readiness. Bus transportation will also be provided. Berkman will continue to support teachers through partnerships with organizations such as Creative Action and the Paramount Theater. Additionally, with this grant, Berkman will purchase various arts related items that will enhance and improve the ability to deliver high quality art based and integrated instruction and showcase the work of their students.

Bluebonnet Elementary School: The Learning Never Stops, $94,250
Through this grant, Bluebonnet will continue to focus on its goal of continuous learning for ALL (students and staff) through the continuation of Discovery Hour and Bluebonnet University. Discovery Hour offers enrichment opportunities for students after school allowing access to learning sessions that expand the impact of the academic day through authentic, high interest enrichment opportunities. Bluebonnet University will continue to explore innovative ways to support the professional growth and effectiveness of Bluebonnet teachers.

Cactus Ranch Elementary School: Continuation of School Communication, $99,736
Cactus Ranch will continue to develop the School of Communication Model building on the success of year one. The program, which will prepare students for life and career success via communication skills, will be expanded into every classroom in the 2017-18 academic year.

Canyon Creek Elementary School: Canyon Creek Academy: Enrich, Elevate and Empower, $100,000
This grant will allow Canyon Creek to continue to provide high levels of success and provide students and staff enrichment experience through STEAM education and resource development, staff training in established programs such as Project Based Learning (PBL) and growing the Capturing Kids Hearts initiative.

Caraway Elementary School: Caraway Academy Chapter Two: Every Academy Has a Story to Tell, $100,000
Every Academy Has a Story to Tell is the next phase in enhancing the academy enrichment experience through the use of additional interactive technology, STEAM exploration resources, professional development, and community partnerships. Phase two will provide the opportunity to integrate community products and services. There will be an emphasis on school partnerships, community involvement, and the use of social media (#Caraway) to share enrichment service learning not only with the Caraway community but with the world.

Cedar Ridge High School: High School STEAM lab/ Makerspace, $58,937
This grant will provide for the conversion of the library computer lab into a STEAM lab/ MakerSpace. The creation of a STEAM lab/Makerspace follows the philosophy of building on existing teacher-librarian partnerships and leveraging the resources and interests currently available. This lab will bring educational opportunities to a broader audience of participants because it will be available to all students rather than small groups of students. The opportunities afforded in this type of space will utilize interdisciplinary learning.

Chandler Oaks Elementary School: Diving Into Inquiry, $98,620
This grant will be used to create an I.D.E.A. Studio. This would be a space that allows the entire student population to develop a plan or idea, explore the concept, and act by reflecting on and applying their learning. Research demonstrates that students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom knowledge to projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration with peers and teachers.

Deep Wood Elementary School: Innovative, Inclusive and Collaborative Learning for All Students, $100,000
This grant will allow Deep Wood Elementary to redesign current spaces to create inspiring, innovative and collaborative learning environments for all students. These innovative environments will be used to enhance learning for all students and meet their social, emotional and academic needs.

England Elementary: Launch 17: England is Project Lead the Way, $64,142
England Elementary will leverage the professional development and structure provided through Project Lead the Way (PLTW) training and standards/aligned resources to move their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Project Based Learning (PBL) initiative from Cycle 1 to the next level of school-wide STEM implementation.

Fern Bluff Elementary School: Full STEAM Ahead! From PLTW to Launching After School Enrichment, $66,095
Fern Bluff will continue to implement the nationally recognized Project Lead the Way program which is focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Fern Bluff will incorporate the third and fourth modules of PLTW into every classroom during the 2017-18 academic year.

Grisham Middle School: School of Choice: MYP Meets #InnovationNation, $95,100
The grant will further Grisham Middle School’s #InnovationNation initiative. This year, Grisham aims to clearly articulate and promote its culture to embrace its unique identity and instructional practices. Grisham will be defined as a school of choice where the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program (MYP) design cycle, and areas identified through a needs assessment with a branding process that solidifies their image, core values and community continuity.

Hopewell Middle School: Flippen Group Teen Leadership Program, $50,175
As Hopewell Middle School works toward redefining its vision, focusing on becoming a leadership and community service oriented campus, they will use the Flippen Group’s Teen Leadership Program as a roadmap.

Laurel Mountain Elementary School: The Nature to Neighborhood Studio at Laurel Mountain Elementary, $100,000
Laurel Mountain Elementary’s path to innovation flows through their award winning outdoor learning program and Schoolwide Enrichment Model, using the school’s unique geographical location adjacent to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve as the backdrop for achievement and success. Through the Innovative Grants, Laurel Mountain’s nature preserve is climbing from the canyon behind the school towards the main campus in the form of three new flexible learning spaces that were designed using established patterns of student interest in the natural world.

Pond Spring Elementary School: Pond Springs Schoolwide Enrichment: Ignite Passion for Learning, $68,173
This grant will be used for four specific projects that will expand their ability to tap into high levels of engagement and expand the use of enjoyable and challenging learning experiences that are tailored to students’ interests, learning styles, and preferred modes of expression. These projects are the Innovation Zone, Outdoor Classroom, Learning Beyond the Classroom field studies and Professional Development. The Innovation Zone will serve as a multi-age center for communication, collaboration, and production of innovative ideas. The Outdoor Classroom will be an extension of the Innovation Zone providing students with outdoor opportunities to conduct experiments and learn about agriculture.  Learning Beyond the Classroom is designed to give students shared experiences that they could not secure in the traditional curriculum through hands-on visits or through virtual means. Professional Development will be provided to cluster leaders to support each goal.

Ridgeview Middle School: Captivating Minds Through Innovative Design, $99,639
With this grant, Ridgeview seeks to empower students by differentiating their learning through environment, process and product. Students will be provided choices with flexible furniture in classrooms and common learning spaces. In addition, the expansion of outdoor learning spaces will equip students to discover their individual learning preferences. Through broadening the offering of technology tools, student options in the learning process and in product creation will be provided.

Robertson Elementary School: Flexible Learning Spaces, Blended Learning, $99,706
Robertson Elementary will continue implementation of a personalized, blended learning approach. Personalized learning is defined as learning that is tailored to each student’s strengths, needs and interests; including enabling student’s voice and choice in the what, how, when and where they learn to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards. Flexible furniture will be purchased to allow student choice when working.

Round Rock High School: Increasing Literacy Through Graphic Novels in Education (a.k.a. Holy Graphic Novels Batman!), $80,000
RRHS will work toward closing the achievement gap and increasing literacy levels of students through an innovative program that implements the use of graphic novels across the curriculum. By offering alternative and ancillary texts that increase understanding by delivering the content at struggling readers’ instructional level, rather than their frustration level, teachers will scaffold the learning for struggling readers.

Spicewood Elementary School: Promoting a Culture of Innovation: Growing Reflective Open-Minded World Class (G.R.O.W.) Innovators, $60,000
This grant will fund technology for an outdoor atrium space which will promote flexible, multipurpose, collaborative and explorative learning experiences. Technology including 3D printers, mobile carts and iPads will also be purchased.

Voigt Elementary School: Setting the Stage for Success, $100,000
The campus theme for 2017-18 will be “Setting the Stage for Success.” The grant will enhance Voigt Elementary School’s transition as the school “sets the stage for success” for the Arts Integration Academy by providing extended day opportunities for students in their areas of interest, as well as support for teachers implementing arts integration during the school day.

Wells Branch Elementary Arts Integration Academy: Arts Integration in Action: The Sequel, $99,400
This grant will consist of support for innovation in the three key components of an Arts Integration Academy: arts integration in classrooms, arts enhancement campus wide, and arts enrichment. To continue to build arts integration, embedded professional development will be provided through collaborative planning with arts specialists and grade level teams.