Return to Headlines

UCPS teachers rewarded with LIFT grants for cutting-edge class projects

Several Union County Public Schools (UCPS) teachers are celebrating, after winning Leadership and Innovation Funding (LIFT) grants to pay for creative projects to enhance student engagement and learning. 

This year, the Union County Education Foundation (UCEF) awarded seven grants totaling more than $8,300 to teachers across the district. The UCEF Prize Patrol, including UCEF board members Myron Williams, Rick Croffut, and Peter Senick; Amy Sperry, Executive Director of UCEF; and Dr. Cynthia Hogston, UCPS' Director of Federal Programs made surprise visits to five teachers to present them with checks between $750 and $1,500.

Adam Hass (Rocky River Elementary) Empowering Future Engineers

With a $1,500 grant, every student will take part in an engineering unit that will teach them about collaboration and problem-solving through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities. The funds will be used to purchase materials specific to each grade level. In addition, at the culmination of each project, the school will hold Engineering Day to showcase what students learned and show how they plan to use project-based learning skills in the future.

Margaret Paladino (Walter Bickett Elementary) I See Me 3-D

Ms. Paladino is using a $1,500 grant to purchase a 3-D printer. Students will have the opportunity to make their own ideas come alive, and further discover interests that could help them make early choices about their educational careers.

Amy Erb (Stallings Elementary) LASER Focused on STEAM Education

A $750 grant will buy a laser cutting machine that takes the designs that students create and brings them to life by using a laser to cut their designs into a material of their choosing. There will be two choices for their material: wood or leather. Students will see the entire design process from beginning to end by completing this project. All 700 students, including remote learners, will be able to participate in the project.

Regina Dill (South Providence) Remote Learning Math Manipulative

With a $1,500 grant, South Providence will implement a solid Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA) approach to teaching math that will elevate students’ thinking about math. CRA is a research based, UCPS highly suggested approach to helping students get from concrete thinking to abstract thinking. Students who struggle with math can use manipulatives to find ways to express what they do understand, and then to think through their steps visually. 

 Joya Wortham (Prospect Elementary) Using our Senses with Sensory Paths

Prospect Elementary will use a $1,500 grant to bring sensory paths to students. Sensory paths are materials that give students a chance to spend time moving, and giving them a break from distractions. Experts say that sensory paths can help students emotionally and educationally. It also works to build their motor skills. Each pathway was specifically picked and placed to support grade level needs, and align with researched-based academic support.

 View pictures from the surprise announcements. 


The following teachers also received LIFT grants from UCEF:

William Harris (Unionville Elementary) Bob & Wags Ukulele Players

The goal is to perform in class, in virtual classes, outside performances, and studio-like productions/recordings. Mr. Harris will use the $808 grant to teach third through fifth graders how to play the ukulele.

Melissa Cook (Union County Early College High School) Full STEAM Ahead

The project, Full STEAM Ahead, will allow students to pursue their STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) -related interests. UCEC has a $750 grant to create projects that could be completed in face-to-face groups, or in real time on Google Meet or a Zoom-like platform. If students aren't able to gather in large groups in person, they will still have the opportunity to work together virtually and share ideas on topics which are of interest to them.