A cold drizzle couldn’t dampen the spirits of the cheerful team of McKinney Education Foundation (MEF) representatives, McKinney ISD officials, local business partners and volunteers from Sewell Audi McKinney—who, for the second year in a row, graciously provided drivers and transportation—as they dashed about town on Friday, Dec. 7 to deliver $115,000 in MEF classroom and professional development grants to teachers and media resource specialists across the district.

MISD Board member Stephanie O’Dell, Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel and Assistant Superintendents Suzy Woodard and Dr. Melinda DeFelice were among them, along with MEF Executive Director Ashley Sine, as they made their merry rounds, fanning out across the district and popping into classrooms to surprise 52 MISD teachers and media resource specialists with grant awards.

“This is one of MEF’s favorite days of the year,” said Sine. “We are proud to offer these innovative learning opportunities to our teachers and students. With close to $60,000 in virtual and augmented reality grants awarded this year, we look forward to seeing these grants in action.” 

In September, teachers began submitting applications to MEF for the grants, which were funded primarily by MISD staff through payroll donations and were supplemented by local business partners—Sewell Audi McKinney, CoServ, Sunrise Rotary, Sandra and Lyle Froese Family, Freeman Family and the Tom Crowe Honorary Endowment.

“We appreciate being able to be a part of it,” said Sewell General Manager Saadallah El-Jundi. “Last year it was really great seeing the smiles and the excitement from the teachers receiving the grants and the kids also being really excited about us coming in to deliver the grants to them. It was a lot of fun.”

The grant awards varied based on the project. The smallest grant awarded this year only called for $99 for a professional development opportunity, while the largest sum totaled $6,985 for a 3D AVRover Portable Classroom System that that can transform wall space into an immersive 3D learning environment.

Indeed, the vast majority of the grants went toward technology resources—some $83,000 worth—with virtual and augmented reality requests comprising about $58,000 of that. Seventeen thousand went toward professional development opportunities.

One grant recipient was Peggy Perrett from Eddins Elementary, who got a check for $440 to go toward the school’s MakerSpace and some additional Osmo coding stations. “I’m just overwhelmed with the generosity of MEF,” she said. “This enables our students to be able to have some Osmo stations set up here in our learning commons. It’s the hub of the school, so when we are able to provide things for our students here, it affects the whole school community.”

The bottom line of all of this is that the grants are deployed for instructional resources and professional development that will positively impact student learning all over MISD.

“Teachers and media resource specialists request these grants because they are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to help our students learn and succeed,” said Woodard. “These projects are not just gimmicks. These grants really play an important part in helping our teachers hone their craft and continue to move our students forward.”

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or smauldin@mckinneyisd.net.

Photo details: McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel (center) joined MEF Board President Denise Holthaus (center left), Sewell Audi McKinney General Manager Saadallah El-Jundi (center right) and a host of MISD officials and MEF representatives at Sewell Audi McKinney to deliver MEF classroom and professional development grants on Friday, Dec. 7.