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$122K for ‘Great Ideas’ in Marble Falls schools, including book vending machine

Third-grade students at Marble Falls Elementary School will have access to a business fair next year after receiving a grant from the Marble Falls Education Foundation through its Grants 4 Great Ideas program. Grant applicant and third-grade teacher DeeAnna Carroll (left) stands with foundation board member Katie Savage and a host of students. Courtesy photo

The Marble Falls Education Foundation handed out over $122,000 in grant money to 36 different projects across the Marble Falls school district in early April. The money was awarded through the foundation’s annual Grants 4 Great Ideas program

The foundation has given more than $531,000 to teachers with creative ideas that boost classroom engagement since the program’s creation in 2018.

“Grants 4 Great Ideas challenges teachers to think big to come up with innovative ways to teach and creative ways to engage their students and push them toward achieving their fullest potential,” said foundation Executive Director Jeanna Jette. “It is inspiring to see how deeply educators care about the success and well-being of their students.”

Top projects funded this year included a grant for new computers, a business fair for elementary students, and a vending machine filled with books.

“(Teachers) spend a lot of time and energy on making sure their students are equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond,” Jette said. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate the incredible things happening at Marble Falls (Independent School District) and the educators who are trailblazing on behalf of their students and coworkers.”

The grant for new computers at Marble Falls High School will enhance the school’s digital arts curriculum and support its new esports team. Esports is a competitive sport that pits video game players against one another. Common titles played during competitions include Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rocket League, and Brawlhalla.

“Esports not only helps students develop attention to detail, teamwork, manual dexterity, problem-solving, and leadership skills, it also provides an outlet to students who may not be plugged into other activities at school,” Jette said.

Foundation officials also funded a request from Marble Falls Elementary School for a business fair for its third-grade classes. The project-based learning opportunity will let students showcase their financial literacy, a skill they are taught in their math and social studies units.

“Third-grade students learn the purposes for spending, saving, budgeting, and donating money as well as the free enterprise system,” Jette said. “The business fair will solidify their understanding of these concepts, and hopefully spark an entrepreneurial spirit by experiencing firsthand how to develop a business plan and then create, market, and sell products they’ve made.”

Another grant idea selected in this year’s round of funding was a vending machine of books at Highland Lakes Elementary School in Granite Shoals. Students will be able to “purchase” books from the machine using tokens they earn from positive office referrals.

“This will help students build their at-home libraries, give them access to their very own books, and foster a deeper love of reading,” Jette said.

Jette strongly believes the Grants 4 Great Ideas program has an immense impact on student engagement.

“Whether it’s joining the esports team, dreaming of the next big business idea, or reading after school for fun, our students will take the lessons they are learning and apply them to life beyond the classroom walls,” she said. “We hope to inspire lifelong learners through these projects.”

The program keeps with the goal of the Marble Falls Education Foundation, which was formed in 2017.

“Our mission is to generate and distribute resources to MFISD for the implementation of innovative programs,” Jette said. “Grants 4 Great Ideas is a cornerstone of this effort. We are raising funds and putting them directly back into the classrooms, right here in MFISD.”

Visit the Marble Falls Education Foundation’s website to learn more.