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Director's Dispatch: Education Innovation Grants

We want to encourage community members to help us come up with new ways to improve ISD for our students, to help our students challenge, create and change. In that spirit, I am pleased to announce the fourth annual ISD Education Innovation Grant. This will provide funding for great project ideas from students, parents, teachers, and administrators that will help our community achieve our strategic plan. The grants can fund items, services or experiences for students and teachers during the 2018-2019 school year. Projects funded by the innovation grants will be considered for on-going funding from the school’s regular operating budget.

Funding for the grants comes from the non-tuition revenue the school receives from grants ad revenue from renting the school’s facilities. Up to $60,000 will be awarded. The maximum amount for a single grant is $20,000.

Timeline: All grant proposals are due by March 30 by 9:00am. They can be submitted on paper to Wendy Kinyeki in the school administration building or by email to The review committee will meet on Friday, April 6 from 1:00 to 3:30 to determine which projects will be funded. All purchases will be in accordance with existing ISD financial policy and procedures.

Grant Review: A committee of two students, two parents, two teachers, and one administrator will review all grant proposals and determine which grant proposals will be funded and the amount of funding.

I invite you to contact me in person, by phone (776-44-6028), or email ( if you would like to discuss your project ideas or to volunteer to serve on the review committee.

Below are some updates from the projects that were awarded funding this year.

Project: Visiting Artists Program

Requestor(s): Nancy Magnus, Janel Trinchatella, and Teresa Wolff

Grant Award: $3,841

Update: The money has allowed us to start a visiting artist program in the visual arts.  This year we have invited professional artists into our classrooms, or visited them at their studios and worked collaboratively on innovative art projects.  We have had several artists work with our students on different art projects. 

1. Barkinado Bocoum, Senegalese painter.  He visited the IB, High School and 5th grade classes to talk about his work and each student painted an abstract portrait using his techniques.

2. Madzoo, the Graffiti Artist. Madzoo has

beautified spaces on campus with middle school students by painting mural outside the art room in the high school area.  He will be working with 5th graders this spring on another project.

3. Loman Art.  4th grade students visited Ms. Loman at her gallery/studio for inspiration in their own personal mobile.  As well, they are working with Loman on a larger, collaborative mobile that they will make to share with the school.

4. Martin Dixon, photographer, visited the 5th graders to speak about perspective in photography.

Project: Flexible Classroom Environment

Requestor(s): Kelly Campbell, Karalyn Yu, Koffi Baffour

Grant Award: $10,139

Update: The arrival of flexible seating in third grade has provided the opportunity for students to take ownership of their own learning and choose the seating option that best meets their learning needs. This has fostered collaboration, creativity and motivation among the students. 

Project: Graphic Novel & Manga Club

Requestor(s): Catharina Gress-Wright

Grant Award: $1,600

Update: Thanks to an Education Innovation Grant, ISD now has a Graphic Novel & Manga Club! With $1000 of books and more to be come from student recommendations, students are able to share their combined love of reading, art, and illustration with likeminded kids. Some students come to read and chat, others to draw and use the texts as inspiration. This year our goal is to share our passions with the ISD community the final JagArts in May; in future we hope to expand into greater activities like making or attending a ComiCon (Comics Convention)."

Project: Musical Instruments for Secondary


Requestor(s): Janel Trinchitella, Joy Osundwa, Liz Rosner

Grant Award: $13,065

Update: At the end of last year we applied for a grant to extend our band program into the middle school by purchasing instruments. These new instruments have

not only been put to use in the after school concert band, but have been integrated in to the Middle school music curriculum. Thanks to the grant all middle school students have had the opportunity to learn to play a band instrument and our after school concert band has grown allowing more students advance their skills becoming better musicians.

Project: Garden Project

Requestor(s): Nyah Gueye

Grant Award: $12,997

Update: This years successes have been the commitment of the children to the daily compost collection, fostering responsibility, and building nutrient rich soil to grow food. We have also reduced a lot of organic waste from Shady shack that would have otherwise been put into the trash.

The project has complemented the elementary teachers and students with key concepts in their Program of Inquiry. For example, human activity and natural systems, reforestation, ecosystems and the interdependence of living things, exploration and the exchange of foods, and language terms of taste in French.

We started a tree planting project. The “one student one tree” project is getting every student to plant one seed, with the hopes to help reforestation in Senegal. We have currently planted around 250 seeds.

And last but not least, the starting of two local public school gardens in Ouakam. This project is collaborating with high school students, and supports their creative, active and service learning (CAS) requirement for the IB diploma.  

Project: Robotics

Requestor(s): Micah Hall

Grant Award: $15,650

Update: Robotics is doing great.  Vex ISD HS team took 1st place in Barcelona February 17 and will be facing the Senegalese and ISD Middle School teams in a local competition at ISD on Mach 17.  ISD robotics participation peaked at around 50 students, with approximately 20 that have stayed with it the entire time.  Our sponsored Senegalese team from last year has returned as mentors this year, and is helping the 30 plus students from 10 local public Senegalese schools in their robot creations.  We have three Senegalese teams that will be participating in our tournament.

Project: Physics Equipment

Requestor(s): Randy Brown

Grant Award: $1,967

Update: All of the equipment purchased from my innovation grant has been used heavily this school year with students in all four levels of physics. Here is a photo of some of my 9th graders using the hand held spectrometers and the spectrophotometer to look at the emission from various gasses. 

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