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Fall TGIF Recipients

Fall TGIF Recipients

Credit Union of America takes supporting teachers seriously, and as we should. CUA was started by a group of 15 teachers back in 1935. A favorite current-day program among teachers is our TGIF classroom grants.

Grant applications are open to CUA members who are certified teachers in the state of Kansas and requests can be made for up to $500. CUA funds the grants through a portion of our CUA Visa Give-Back credit card proceeds. Grants are awarded twice per calendar year. Since the inception of the program, CUA has awarded $227,677.89 to 632 teachers!  If you’re a teacher-member and would like to apply, the next deadline is midnight, June 30, 2020.  Applications are accepted online. And, if you’re a recipient of a TGIF grant (past or present) and have photos of your grant being implemented, please share via CUA's Facebook or Twitter

Here are some of our most recent TGIF grant projects:

Stephanie Knutson
Maize Middle School, Maize, KS.
$500 reaching up to 950 students per school year

Outdoor Classroom

Stephanie Knutson’s middle school had an open-sky courtyard that was in dire need of a clean-up. Once cleaned, she envisioned this area as a great place to teach students about several subjects, give them a change of scenery from the traditional classroom, and an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air. You know, sometimes students get cabin fever. Don’t we all?

Ms. Knutson will be using her TGIF funds to buy new outdoor tables, plant new shrubs and greenery, and the supplies needed to maintain the area. Plans are to use the courtyard for earth science and English classes.  The application outlined her envisioning the English writing students being inspired by the sky, the trees blowing in the wind, and the smells of fresh air.  What a fun area to learn in!

Jennifer Brown
Derby North Middle School, Derby, KS.
6th grade math
$200 reaching 25 students per class

Designed for Special Education Students

Jennifer Brown’s goal for her grant was to provide a real-life experience for her students in using currency and coin to buy and sell items.  She is purchasing a real cash register, play money, ledgers, and small items for students to purchase/sell.  The items will be those that students can use as tools for their projects.  i.e. pencils, erasers, etc.  Students can practice for real world situations, practice their math skills in making change, and learn about saving money. Ms. Brown’s money lessons should last them a lifetime!

LeAnne Bryant
Maize South High School, Maize, KS.
Business Class
$500 reaching 300 students per school year 

Classroom Headphones & Holders

In Ms. Bryant’s classroom you’re not sitting at a desk just listening to a lecturer or reading a lesson.  You may be watching a video, working through an online tutorial, or even listening to a Ted Talk.  These assignments are often facilitated through individual headphones. Unfortunately, the ones on hand were past their useful life, with no ear cushions and limited headsets available.  Ms. Bryant will be purchasing enough headphones that each student has access to one set during class.  She’s also purchasing headphone hangars which are applied to each computer station. The hangars will give each headset a safe place to be stored when not in use and prevent damage or loss. This reminds us of the optometrist’s old saying regarding new glasses, “if they’re not on your face, they’re in your case.”  Students hang those headphones up!

Angela Savute
Clark Davidson Elementary School, Wichita, KS.
First grade
$60 reaching 17 students per school year. 

Reading Center Supplies

We all know how reading can open your world and take you places you may never go physically. Getting young ones interested in reading can help them develop a life-long habit.  Ms. Savute is adding a few items to her current reading center to entice her students, even more, to enjoy reading. Her TGIF grant is funding items such as finger puppets, large foam playing dice, and read-to-self phones. Now who wouldn’t want to read with those visual aids?

Tracey Pettijohn
Stafford Schools in Stafford, KS.
$500 reaching up to 100 students
Kindergarten – 5th grade

Calm Room

There are some students in every school, unfortunately, that have higher levels of stress than other students, or have experienced a complex trauma.  Ms. Pettijohn’s school helps students going through stressful situations by providing them a Calm Room.  The existing Room has shown that it helps prevent situations from escalating, allowing students to process their emotions in the Calm Room before they make a poor decision that would lead to an office referral.  The TGIF grant allows some supplies to be restocked, broken items to be replaced, and the addition of new student aids.  Ms. Pettijohn will be purchasing textured pillows that provide sensory feedback to help calm students, artificial aquariums, a compression boat that provides a full body-hugging sensation, a mini-fridge for bottled water and snacks, new floor lamps, and pom balls to squeeze, throw, and stretch in a safe manner. The Calm Room allows a break from others and a safe place to decompress. 

Mary Saunders
Little Early Childhood Education Center, Wichita, KS.
Pre k – 5-year old’s
$455, reaching 250+  

Sensory Snake

Ms. Saunders’ TGIF grant will be used to buy a sensory path for the school gym. A sensory path is a colorful, visually interesting design that is placed on a floor.  Students with Autism, ADHD, ADD, or other special needs can walk or jump along the path, which provides needed sensory input to help them calm their bodies and regulate their behavior so they can learn. When students have unmet sensory needs they typically scream, cry or withdraw. These behaviors inhibit learning and cause distress for many students. The sensory path is a tool that students can learn to use independently to meet their sensory needs. We’re glad when this snake is on the floor it’s not of the reptile variety!

JoAnn Hermann
Adams Elementary, Wichita, KS.
2nd grade
$340, reaching approximately 70 students

Sharks are Fintastic!

Shark week has become a pop culture event, but in Ms. Hermann’s class, sharks are part of class.  Ms. Hermann is incorporating activities based around shark education into her non-fiction writing, vocabulary sessions, text feature studies, art projects, science experiments, fact/opinion lessons, graphing, measuring, Math fact practice, & social/emotional learning lessons. Whew, that’s a lot of shark. They’ll do a study of real shark teeth and go on a virtual field trip to the Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, IL). On the tour they’ll explore the Wild Reef from behind the scenes and inside the shark habitat.   Biodiversity, animal behavior, adaptations, conservation and life cycle will all be covered.  Hermann’s TGIF grant will help cover items that bring examples “to life” and engage students in the lessons. Please don’t be alarmed if you see sharks floating around her room or a teacher-sized Shark walking down the hall. 

Becky Routh
Prairie Creek Elementary, Andover, KS.
1st – 5th grade vocal music
$500, reaching 290 per year

Aloha Ukuleles

Ms. Routh found that her special needs students have difficulty learning and playing some instruments, like the recorder.  Her TGIF grant will be used to purchase ukuleles that can be easily learned by all students. Ukuleles are small, easy to play, have a pleasant, mellow sound, and are just plain FUN!  Students will learn tuning and instrument care, strumming, rhythmic melodies, hand coordination, and sight-reading, among other musical skills.  In addition, students will develop better social skills through partner activities and develop their creativity as they make their own songs. Ms. Routh has a goal of creating better musicians, singers, and instrumentalists, of all her students. We can’t wait to hear some of those original ukulele compositions!


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