A dozen Glendale Unified teacher projects earn grants


A second year of teacher grants saw more money from the Glendale Educational Foundation going for projects in the Glendale Unified School District.

Twelve winning applications were selected out of 30. Overall, 27 instructors received $21,339 in grant funding, foundation executive director Elsa Chagolla announced during a school board meeting Tuesday, where teachers were recognized.

“That’s our favorite part for me and for board members,” Chagolla said. “You get to hear from teachers you’re supporting, and you get to see them and meet [them] … They’re always really excited.”

Edison Elementary and Toll Middle School led the way with two grants each. Balboa and Jefferson elementary schools, College View School, Early Bird Preschool as well as Glendale and Hoover highs and Roosevelt and Wilson middle schools each had a winning entry.

Edison’s trio of Anya Bergman, Sarine Gureghian and Ashken Hagopian earned a grant to take their sixth-grade classes to a live production of Roald Dahl’s book, “James and the Giant Peach,” in Hollywood.

“Our students were very excited to learn that they would be going on this field trip, and we are now reading the book in preparation for our trip,” Bergman said.

Roger Sondergaard, who teaches at Edison, will utilize his grant money for pickleball upgrades.

“I will be using the grant money to purchase pickleball paddles and nets for my fourth- through sixth-grade PE classes at Edison,” Sondergaard said. “This equipment should last us for many years, and it is a unit of instruction that I look forward to teaching.”

Verjinia Mayer, Rebecca Perez and Danielle Petitti, three teachers at Toll, teamed up for a grant geared toward 3-D design and printing, while Danica Lisiewicz, Jon Wenn and Liz Weaver, who also teach at Toll, will receive funding for women’s rights and equality curriculum.

Balboa teachers Iris Valdez, Carolyn Spencer and Christine Dashdemirians had their joint grant petition approved, as did Early Bird Preschool’s Kirsten Korte and Connie Hernandez.

Paula Nakaya, a teacher at College View School, will use her money for art supplies.

“My grant was to get an outside easel that is see-through, with shaving cream and bathtub paints,” Nakaya said. “This will allow my class to interact with the [early education and extended learning program] preschool class on campus by looking at each other while they are painting.”

Roosevelt teacher Janet Goldsbury can now fund an African drum circle.

“A drum circle is literally a class sitting in a circle, each [student] with a drum,” Goldsbury said. “Drum circles foster both leadership and team-player roles. It’s very common to see timid, insecure students become wide-eyed and visibly proud when they experience success in this creative way.”

Jessica Briggs, Sandy Fink and Christy Herington, who teach at Wilson, joined together for a grant, while Hoover High teacher Martin Rhees can now replace the drum heads on the school’s marching percussion instruments.

“Mostly, I feel some sense of relief,” Rhees said of the grant. “Running and maintaining an instrumental music program is an expensive commitment on the part of a school district. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure where we were going to get or how we were going to earn the money.”

Glendale High teachers Michael Rosales, Patricia Telles and Ib Belou and Jefferson instructors Krista Bendgen, Talin Khachikian and Nina Minasyan were also awarded grants.

Last year, the foundation gave 14 grants to 21 teachers, coming in at a little less than $16,000, which brings the two-year total of 26 grants for 48 teachers to a combined $37,111 for local projects.

A significant difference this year compared to last year was an increase in collaborations, which Chagolla said the foundation was not necessarily pushing.

Eight of the 12 winning projects came from groups, perhaps because the most grant money an individual teacher could receive was $1,000. However, a group entry could fetch as much as $3,000.

“I thought it was cool,” Chagolla said.

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