Dysart Education Foundation awards mini grants for projects that support students - AZEdNews
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Dysart Education Foundation awards mini grants for projects that support students


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  • Renee Ryon   |   Dysart Unified School District

From Left To Right, Roxanne Lopez, Heather Featherstone, Beth Simek, And Reagan Hofeling Were Among The 17 Recipients Of Dysart Education Foundation’s Fall 2021 Mini-grants. (Courtesy Of Dysart Unified School District)

The Dysart Education Foundation (DEF) recently announced 17 school recipients for the 2021 Fall mini-grants. 

This opportunity was made possible by sponsorships from Southwest Foodservice Excellence, the City of Surprise Community Outreach Grants, and funds from the Russo Trust

Submissions were awarded based on projects that incorporate arts, STEM education, student need, and creativity in student learning and winners include:

  • Roxanne Lopez, an iExplore teacher from Mountain View School, will purchase tablets to allow students to solve real world problems using robotics in upcoming competitions.
  • Michele Gillespie, and Nicole Shelley, both Special Education Teachers from Dysart Middle School, will utilize the grant to provide a variety of sensory tools in order to assist special needs students with hands-on experiences to improve focus and learning.
  • Tracy Smith, a Social Worker from Luke Elementary School received funds for a reset room to support students and their emotional needs.
  • Ashley Meyer, a Special Education Teacher at Rancho Gabriela Elementary School received a mini-grant to provide materials and equipment for the resource and general education classrooms to help support students in all environments.
  • Heather Maddox, a 7th Grade Math Teacher at West Point Elementary School, will provide her students math comprehension supports including the website IXL to help fill the gaps for math standards.
  • Theresa Malone, a Third Grade Teacher at West Point Elementary School, will purchase flexible seating including wobble stools that allow for increased focus.
  • Sunny Watson, a Special Education Teacher from Sonoran Heights Middle School, will purchase sensory items to assist with calming strategies.
  • Niki Trezzo, a Kindergarten Teacher from El Mirage Elementary School, will utilize the grant to purchase additional curriculum sets of Kindermusik materials in order to integrate Kindermusik songs and activities in the students’ daily routines maximizing language skills and social development.
  • Kurwin Forest, a Band Teacher from Shadow Ridge High School, will purchase upgraded mouthpieces for student instruments which will allow for greater flexibility in sound production.
  • Nicole Truitt, a Music Teacher from West Point Elementary School, received the grant to replace keyboards and headphones for students to utilize in music class.
  • Heather Featherstone, a Music Teacher from Mountain View School, will purchase specialty microphones and a Soundtrap website license to allow students to create, record and edit their podcasts.
  • Taylor Ingro, a Music Teacher from El Mirage Elementary School, will utilize grant funds for FlipFORMS furniture for seating, risers, and room dividers, for class and stage performances.
  • Sara Mendoza, an Art Teacher from Rancho Gabriela Elementary School, received funds for art paper supplies and a paper cutter to be utilized to prepare art projects.
  • Reagan Hofeling, a Band Teacher at Mountain View School, will use the grant for Pneumo Pro, a visual aid for flute students to utilize in order to improve overall tone for our student musicians.
  • Diana Richardson, a Music Teacher at Surprise Elementary School, will purchase additional guitars so students can take Guitar as an elective and learn the fundamentals of the instrument.
  • Freddy Bedolla, a Music Teacher at Riverview School, will use grant funds for musical instruments including ukuleles, silver bells, and pan flutes to be utilized during class, for school and district programs, and during community events.

The Dysart Education Foundation (DEF) is a non-profit organization supporting students and teachers in the Dysart Unified School District.

For more information about DEF or to make a donation, please visit

www.defweb.org