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Innovation that Inspires

Catalyst for Change is a competitve grant program that awards teachers and schools in Alachua County for projects that increase student engagement.

The 2020-2021 Catalyst for Change grants will provide opportunities for K-12 students that focus on STEM education, improving literacy, and raising student achievement.

2020-2021 Catalyst for Change Grant Recipients

Delia Perez and Kevin Kelsey from Gainesville High School: $4,600

Project title

Bridging the Technology Gap for ESOL Students

Project background

This project, sponsored by the GHS Class of 1962, will provide eight laptops to the ESOL department at GHS so that students can access programs like Canvas, Rosetta Stone, Google Chrome, Microsoft Office, and have the technology to search and apply for college admissions, scholarships, and future employment. The purpose of this project is to help ESOL students regularly engage with computer technology to improve their overall language and digital literacy skills. The project aligns with the district’s goal of maximum student graduation and success post high school. Having access to laptops will help create and maintain a culture of academic excellence and high expectations and provide high quality programs and that will prepare all students to productive citizens and lifelong, agile learners. The computers will also help students to become fluent in learning management systems often used at the college and university level (ex. Canvas).

Katie Robinson from Shell Elementary: $4,760

Project title

Shell Reading Initiative

Project background

The Shell Reading Initiative will address the 19% achievement gap between African American and white students for ELA. The goal is to improve proficiency among its African American students from 28% to 41% by utilizing the American Reading Company’s Independent Reading Level Assessment (IRLA) Framework to address gaps in reading skills and by purchasing high interest books written at multiple reading levels from the American Reading Company.

Nanette Dell from Talbot Elementary: $5,737

Project title

IXL Math

Project background

The Talbot IXL Math program will address the 41% achievement gap between African American and white students in FSA math proficiency.  Teachers will be able to use the data from the IXL math program to provide specific intervention and remediation through small group instruction. The impact of the project will be measured by the analysis Half AIMS, AIMS and FSA data for each group. 

Sherry Scoville from Stephen Foster Elementary School: $5,000

Project title

Backpacking Over the Gap

Project background

Backpacking Over the Gap will address the 41% of Stephen Foster’s African American students who are performing below grade level. Third and fifth grade reading statistics are showing these students lack prerequisite skills and knowledge with a limited vocabulary bank. ELA skills must be improved to lower this achievement gap. New books for the Backpacking Over the Gap project will be purchased based on the following criteria:  1. Grade level appropriateness 2. Cultural awareness 3. Statistical interest of students based on check out records 4. Recommendations of classroom teachers, Title 1 coordinator and administration.

Melissa Pardue from A. Quinn Jones Center: $4,500

Project title

Reading for Real-Inspiring Readers with Relatable Literature

Project background

This project will update the A. Quinn Jones Center library, which currently has less than 4,000 titles, with inspiring and relevant literature. In 2019, 68% of A. Quinn Jones students scored a level one on the ELA FSA. The goals of this project is to improve student scores on the ELA FSA, to reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions for African American students, to improve attendance, and ultimately, keep students engaged through the use of inspiring and relevant literature.

Ricky Quintana from Howard Bishop Middle School: $5,035.70

Project title

Hawk Connect

Project background

Hawk Connect will engage the brick and mortar and digital academy students in authentic data collection and simulation STEM activities using the Texas Instruments(TI)  TI-Nspire™ CX Navigator™ system, TI-Nspire CX graphing calculators, and Vernier probes. Using TI’s technology, students will use STEM practices such as planning and developing scientific investigations, analyzing and interpreting mined data, using mathematical and conceptual thinking to find solutions, and identifying cause and effect relationships in authentic and simulated STEM activities provided by the technology. The program will also allow for collaboration and peer interaction between brick and mortar and digital academy students further engaging them in STEM learning. Hawk Connect’s goal is to reduce the achievement gap between black and white students by three percentage points from 55% to 52% in math and science testing scores.        

Dr. Carrie Wells from Wiles Elementary: $2,150

Project title

Empowering Student Voices

Project background

Empowering Student Voices aims to foster a positive learning environment that encourages students of diverse backgrounds to become more dynamic readers and writers. Students will be exposed to a variety of fiction and nonfiction topics, including Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) to inspire exploration of new ideas and ways of thinking. Empowering Student Voices aims to reduce the nearly 43% achievement gap among third through fifth grade students in the ELA standardized assessment.

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