By Ana Conejo Jan 18, 2022 Updated Jan 19, 2022

Excitement echoed throughout Tyler ISD campuses on Tuesday. The Tyler ISD Foundation Grant Patrol walked the halls of 15 campuses ready to surprise teachers with 37 big checks totaling nearly $95,000.
This year’s patrol featured the highest amount of grant funding and the most amount ever given by the Tyler ISD Foundation, according to the foundation. Those who received checks were named Grants for Great Ideas recipients for 2021-22. The program “provides resources to fund individual and teams of educators for innovative and creative projects intended to enrich classrooms and support student achievement,” according to Tyler ISD.
Two campuses in which teachers were awarded with grants include Caldwell Arts Academy and the Career and Technology Center, where students watched in awe of the surprise.
Bobby Markle, Caldwell Arts Academy principal, was excited to receive a total of four grants for the campus, totaling to $18,928. He said these are not “one-time” grants, as the money will be used to grow programs throughout the years.
“Every year when we submit these grants we keep our fingers crossed because it definitely helps support our program as we grow,” Markle said. “They really help us lay the foundation and the seeds to what we hope to continue to grow.”
One of the awarded checks was an “Animation Generation” grant to Caldwell Academy Digital Art teachers Julianna Wynn and Gwen Riggs that totaled to $4,940, which will be used for the animation program on the elementary and middle school programs.
“The grant helps us buy the FlipaClip app so they can use it and all the components that go with it. They also get a light board to use, first they draw without it then they try it with it so they can see the difference,” Riggs said.
“It also helps buy cameras; we use point and click cameras and DSLR cameras over in the middle school. We also use those to create the animation movies as well, so it’s not just iPads. Cameras can get quite expensive and this grant helps us purchase those things that are way out of our budget,” added Wynn.
“This animation gives our kids at Caldwell K through eighth grade training. They learn every step of the way, every part of animation, every medium of animation and honestly by the time they leave here they can start taking some college classes, they really could,” Wynn said.
In regards to the other grants given, Markle said the contribution from the Tyler ISD Foundation is greatly appreciated because it helps fill the gaps needed to assist with classrooms.
“We get a lot of funding through the district but these are programs that cost a little bit more of what we can budget for so Tyler ISD Foundation has always done well in filling up that gap and I love it because it’s supported by the community,” Markle said. “Our campus is built on applications, we want to take our art forms and use them to show students that you can apply your art and not just do your art.”
Other grants given at Caldwell were: “Through the Looking Glass,” “Interstellar Road Show,” and “Integrating Digital Arts in Math.” The Grants for Great Ideas program encourages, facilitates, recognizes, and rewards innovative and creative instructional approaches that are not already supported by campus budgets. Grants are awarded through a selection by the Tyler ISD Foundation every year. Another stop in the afternoon was at Tyler ISD’s Career and Technology Center for the “Direct to Garment Printer for Marketing, Business and Graphic Design students” grant.
The grant was $4,800 and will be used through the Audio/Video, Graphic Design, and Marketing department where students will use, lead and create items using a Garment printer. Receiving the news via FaceTime video was Michael Sturrock, CTC graphic design teacher, who originally applied for the grant and was ecstatic when he received the call from the other grant recipients who will benefit.
“Now we can design shirts for marketing, business, AV (Audio/Video) and graphic design. We can just print them on-site instead of off-site and sell them right there for CTC. We’ll come out with CTC merchandise and designs, Tyler ISD designs, and print them on-site instead of having to use a third party and actually generate sales for our programs right on-site,” Sturrock said. “It will be student-led and student-printed, so they will get to learn the process of printing, design, marketing and selling.”
Other campuses that received grants through the program include Tyler High School, Dixie Elementary School, Boshears Center, Peete Elementary School, Griffin Elementary School, Moore MST Magnet School, Bell Elementary School, Hogg Middle School, Birdwell Dual Language Immersion School, Owens Elementary School, Jack Elementary School, Rice Elementary School and Hubbard Middle School.
Since its creation in 1990, the Tyler ISD Foundation has gifted more than $3.4 million to Tyler ISD through innovative teaching grants, student and parent programs, academic and teaching recognition events, and scholarships.
George Faber, President of Tyler ISD Foundation, said the experience has been positive and is asking for community help to give more grants to educators.
“The reactions from the teachers have been unbelievable, most of them have been really excited and happy to receive the grants. Tyler ISD does a really good job of giving teachers money but there’s always that little extra that really helps out and this also gives the community involved. These are unique years coming out from teachers,” Faber said. “There’s so many great things going on with this foundation, if we could get more people behind it we can do better, bigger and more things.”