Eleven R-II teachers awarded mini grants

By Theo Tate
Posted 11/16/23

Eleven teachers from the Montgomery County R-II School District were awarded mini grants for their projects that will help children learn in the classroom.

On Nov. 9, the recipients were …

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Eleven R-II teachers awarded mini grants


Eleven teachers from the Montgomery County R-II School District were awarded mini grants for their projects that will help children learn in the classroom.

On Nov. 9, the recipients were recognized during an R-II School Board meeting at the Jonesburg Elementary School gymnasium. They were Stephanie Combs, Jeanne Hudgens and Kista River of Montgomery County Middle School, Bernie Bader and Patti Montalbano of Montgomery County High School, Tina Cay, Angel Davis, Kristin Scott and Jeanette Ventimiglia of Jonesburg Elementary and Christina Harms and Kristal Zerr of Montgomery City Elementary. All of them will receive $315 each.

Nine of the teachers were present at the meeting. One of them, Ventimiglia, showed a demonstration on how students can learn letters and sounds from her Learning Letters and Improving Literacy project. She brought items such as letterbots – which are letters that can be taken apart and be turned into little robots – and trains.

“I’ve got a bunch of different toys and manipulatives that the kids can use when they are learning their letters and sounds,” said Ventimiglia, a preschool and Title I reading teacher at JBE.

Scott, a fourth-grade teacher at JBE, showed a demonstration of her Flexible Seating project. She said she came up with the idea of her project last year, when R-II Superintendent Dr. Tracy Bottoms requested some chairs for the office.

“They’re just some more comfortable ways for my kids to sit,” Scott said. “They move and change throughout the week so they’re not always stuck in the same spot. I realize that they help them focus and learn a little bit better.”

Harms, a second-grade teacher at MCE, won a grant for her STEAM It Up in the Makerspace Virtual Reality project. She plans to add phones and VR apps to the current makerspace she has in her classroom.

“This year, I had virtual reality headsets already gifted to me, but I did not have the devices that would fit in there and that would run the apps that are necessary to take my students on these virtual field trips,” Harms said. “With this grant, I will be able to do that.”

Harms won a grant last year for her STEAM It Up in the Makerspace project, which provided and enhanced a makerspace in her classroom with an emphasis on activities that are related to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. She also won grants in 2020 and 2021.

Montalbano, a special education teacher at MCHS, was named a grant recipient for her student-ran baked goods store in her life skills class.

“I’m using the mini grant for my life skills class to allow the students to be able to purchase the necessary ingredients to make baked goods, calculating the cost to make those goods and selling them for a non-enumerable profit so we could hopefully sustain the program for future years,” Montalbano said.

Zerr, an early childhood teacher at MCE, received money for her Tag-A-Long Bags, which are kits for students to take home and practice preschool standards through play. A year ago, she earned a grant for her I Want to Touch That project, which will help children improve on their fine motor skills. Zerr was also a grant recipient in 2021.

Davis, a librarian at JBE, received a grant for her Cord Cutting Technology project, which includes hands-on activities to promote critical thinking and problem solving that do not involve technology. She was a grant recipient in 2020 and 2021.

Bader, a geometry teacher at MCHS, won money for her Archimedes Solid Construction project for the second time in three years. She brought her Archimedean solids to the board meeting.

The other projects are I Cannot Sit Still (Combs), A Vital Project for Medical Detectives (River), Blue Light Blockers (Cay) and Hands On Science (Hudgens).

The Kiwanis Mini Grant program is its 16th year. The program is supported financially by many local civic clubs, including Montgomery City Kiwanis, Jonesburg Lions, Jonesburg Optimist, Jonesburg Lady Lioness, Montgomery City Lions and the Montgomery County Rotary Club.


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