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Innovation and Impact Grants

2014 PDK/PLT Innovation and Impact Grant Recipients

Photo of Jill Gonzalez-BravoFocused R2 with Focusx2i – Jill Gonzalez-Bravo
Project “Focused R2 with Focusx2i” will provide a cadre of teacher leaders from identified high need schools with resources and training to support professional reflection and increase rigor in the classroom. Five threads of research shaped the purpose and vision of this project. This synthesis resulted in a program designed to create a tether of support that will strengthen the instructional practice of teachers in high need schools, promote critical thinking skills for 21st century learners, and provide effective clinical environments for emerging teacher candidates.

Jill Gonzalez-Bravo is the Director of Clinical and Field Based Experiences at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. Her experiences include over 20 years in education beginning with two years of service in Peace Corps, followed with an urban alternative school, then a rural mid-west setting. Her transition to higher education expanded her vision from being an effective educator to ensuring an effective educator, in every classroom, from day one. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Kansas State University researching teacher education and strategies to motivate candidate professional identity development.

Photo of Betty HuntMATLAB and the Math Classroom – Betty Hunt
The purpose of the grant is to outline ways in which MATLAB (matrix laboratory, a programming language primarily used for numerical computing) can be integrated into a junior level high school mathematics classroom through a selection of suggested activities to support mathematical thinking, STEM learning and the Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. The intention is to introduce a wider scope of students to some basic components of computer programming, identify ways in which mathematics and computer programming are interdisciplinary and can be applied to real world problems, and strengthen students’ problem solving skills through the study of the underlying algorithm of a program. Additionally, the idea of using MATLAB in the math classroom is to help create an active, student-centered learning environment in which students work through a design process taking on the roles of problem-solvers, innovators and inventers while increasing their technological literacy. MATLAB is frequently used in engineering courses and fields, so for a school that strives to prepare students for college degrees in various engineering fields through Project Lead the Way, it is the programming language of choice.

Betty Hunt is the 10th principal of Pius XI High School, a Catholic, co-ed high school of 900 students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hunt’s extensive thirty-year career as a Pius XI educator, department chair, and Director of Academic Operations is supported by her love for learning, collaborative administrative style, and deep pride in Pius XI High School. Betty is a graduate of St. Catherine’s High School and Marquette University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s in Educational Administration.

Photo of Isabel MoralesCommunity Mapping as a Vehicle for Critical, Digital, and Geographic Literacy – Isabel Morales
High school seniors enrolled in Government will use GIS (geographic information system) software to capture, analyze, and present geographic data about their communities. They will utilize this software to create maps that: 1) present problems in their communities, such as poorly located businesses and socioeconomic inequalities, and 2) develop long-term visions for sustainable and just communities. Students will utilize their research to deliver a presentation of their vision to local community leaders and elected officials.

Isabel Morales is a founding teacher at Los Angeles High School of the Arts, an innovative pilot school within the Los Angeles Unified School District. This year, she received her Ed.D. from the University of Southern California, and was honored as a 2014-15 LAUSD Teacher of the Year. Isabel currently teaches Government, Economics, AP Government, AP Psychology, and Sociology to high school students. She was recently awarded a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, which will allow her to infuse geographic literacy into her curriculum after returning from an educational excursion to Iceland.


Through its Innovation and Impact Grants, the PDK Educational Foundation will support the development, implementation, and sharing of new teaching strategies aligned with rigorous college and career standards and associated student assessments. These teaching strategies will be based on innovative approaches designed to have the greatest impact on student learning. Applications may vary significantly; the focus of the grant reviewers will be whether the proposed project is innovative and whether it is likely to improve student learning.

Grants for up to $5,000 each will be awarded to eligible PDK or PLT individual members, groups of members or chapters, along with FEA teacher-advisors as individuals or in groups. The PDK Educational Foundation is responsible for grant administration and the disbursement of funds. The following guidelines should assist grantees in making application.

The 2014 Innovation & Impact Grant Application is no longer available.


1. The project director must be a PDK or PLT member or FEA teacher-advisor. He or she is responsible for overseeing the project including the expenditure of funds, and for reporting final outcomes.

2. A fiscal agent must also be identified, and all grant funds will be transferred to the fiscal agent for disbursement. The fiscal agent must be a nonprofit education organization such as a school district, college/university, or nonprofit association, or it can be a PDK or PLT chapter.

3. Fully completed proposals must be received at PDK International by May 1 using the approved electronic submission process. Proposals will identify: a) the description of the project including expected outcomes; b) the project director’s name and contact information; c) the fiscal agent’s name and contact information; d) the scope of the project, i.e., the number of students and teachers participating, including parents and others, along with the participation of other individuals and partner organizations; e) the support expected from other organizations, including in kind or additional financial support; f) a timeline indicating major project milestones; g) a budget; and h) anticipated opportunities to share the grant’s purpose and results with others.

4. Grant funds may not be used for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, entertainment, or personal items.

5. All properly submitted proposals will be reviewed by a committee empaneled by PDK.

6. Grants will be evaluated based on: a) focus on new teaching strategies aligned with rigorous college and career standards and associated student assessments; b) the likelihood of the grant’s success; c) the scope of the project and anticipated support from other organizations d) cost effectiveness, and e) clarity of the application.<

7. The project director will submit a final report at the grant’s conclusion. The report will include: a) a narrative summary of the grant; b) a point-by-point report of how the grant met or did not meet proposed outcomes; c) names of individuals and/or chapters who participated in the grant; d) efforts to publicize the results in local media; e) an accounting of all spent funds, including receipts as required by PDK auditors, and f) any artifacts (print or video) created as a result of the grant.

8. PDK will support award recipients by virtually connecting them during the planning and implementation phases to allow for the sharing of ideas. Grant recipients will be invited to co-author articles for publication in Kappan or Educational Horizons magazines and present at the Teaching and Learning 2015 conference in Washington, DC.

9. If necessary, the project director will submit written project modifications to the PDK executive director for his/her approval.

10. Grants not completed by the approved date will be considered overdue. The project director may request an extension submitted in writing to the PDK Executive Director. The request for an extension will indicate the status of the grant, reasons for extension, and the new anticipated completion date. If the extension is not requested and the grant is overdue by 90 days according to the originally submitted timeline, all unspent funds will be returned to PDK along with an accounting of all spent funds.

11. Inappropriate expenditures, incomplete grants, and grants not following the original guidelines will jeopardize further awards approved for the member or chapter.

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