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What We Do

2019-2020 Express Grant Winners

Congratulations to the following Express Grant winners!

Building a Ukulele Community 

Cheri Paladino - River Woods Elementary School

Students in grades three through five will be invited to join a community of ukulele players to creatively explore playing the ukulele in a group setting during recess.


A Performance History of Blues Music in America 

Marybeth Reilly - Naperville Central High School 

This live blues performance by a noted Chicago blues teacher and musician will provide a hands-on experience with authentic blues music to help explore the history and evolution of blues in America.


Adaptive Recess Equipment for Structured Peer Interaction

Hannah Wood - Maplebrook Elementary School

Medical or learning difficulties can impact a student's ability to interact with peers during unstructured recess times. This grant will increase opportunities for social interactions during recess, fostering creative skill ls by structuring play in a way that begins to encourage engagement in imaginative, less-structured play.



Andrea Szczepanski - Madison Junior High School

SUCCESS is a family-led organization working with the support of District 203 to empower African American/Black students and other students of color to improve academic performance, strengthen school/family partnerships and create a school atmosphere where everyone is welcomed, valued and respected.


Hip hip hurrah! 

Marisella Weir, Theresa Berdiel, and Gwen Chisausky - Beebe Elementary School

Books that connect to literacy and social emotional learning standards are used for shared time read-alouds with HURRAH volunteers, who serve as readers and mentors for the children. Volunteers provide one-on-one attention, extra exposure to literacy and language, and the chance to build personal relationships with caring individuals.


Promoting and Celebrating Multicultural Awareness

Yvette Almaraz - Mill Street Elementary School 

Multicultural books will add to the English Learners library collection, providing texts that represent Mill Street's culturally diverse classroom and home environments. This will inspire students to be proud of their cultural backgrounds, feel included, be accepting of other cultures, and learn about other cultures.


Reid All About It!

Jean Abbott - Ann Reid Early Childhood Center

Science books will help increase language skills at the early childhood level, incorporating students’ Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and language goals and challenging peer models in the classroom with open-ended questions.


Phonemic Awareness 

Karen Stokes - Prarie Elementary School

The Hear Builder app allows students receiving reading support to practice phonemic awareness skills on their individual level. The app provides students and teachers with multi-level activities, customized reports, and specific learning objectives.


Flight Service Club

Matthew Gerwig - Madison Junior High School

The Flight Service Club allows Madison students to make an impact in the school and the neighboring community through service projects.


The Sunrise Spanish Project

Marisela Weir and Veronica Borjas - Bebe Elementary School

Dual Language (Spanish and English) students from kindergarten through 5th grade will practice Spanish and social skills as they play board games that will impact their Spanish grammar, sentence formation, vocabulary and communication skills.


Personal Care Grant

Lauren Ewanic and Josh Stumpenhorst - Lincoln Junior High School

Students are ready to learn when their most basic needs are met. For 60+ students, access to clean laundry and personal hygiene products are limited, if not absent. The grant provides a washer and dryer, laundry supplies, disposable shower wipes and pre-pasted toothbrushes, deodorant, wide tooth combs, and nail clippers. Students discreetly drop clothes off to be laundered or request personal care items.


Why is Different Awesome?: A creative and innovative approach to closing the achievement gap

Hugh Boger - Scott Elementary School

To create time and space for conversations about diversity, inclusion and equity, benefiting both teachers and students, a guided journaling experience allows students to build self-confidence and discover what makes them each “unique and great.” Students will identify how their actions help or hinder others from tapping into their “inner greatness.” It will address and promote gratitude, compassion, and a “serving heart.”


Artsonia Upload Stations

Emily Fiedler - Elmwood Elementary School

Artsonia is an online art museum. Students create art portfolios, allowing them to share artwork with families. This teaches students about the significance of sharing their artwork as well as the art of photography, as they take pictures of their artwork in order to share it.


Genius Hour Implementation

Kristine Campbell and Julie Comer - Mill Street Elementary School

Students learn that they, as children, can make a difference in the world. Students in the PI program synthesize research from human resources, as well as written and digital resources to create a plan to make an impactful change in our community.


A Mind Full of Mindfulness

Debbie Morris - Naper Elementary School

Our students need to learn how to be mindful during difficult times. Existing social-emotional learning materials and strategies will be supplemented by materials supporting mindfulness, teaching students about mindfulness and strategies for being more mindful.


Purposeful Puppet Play 

Theresa Berdiel and Gretchen Dexter - Beebe Elementary School

The use of finger puppets in the classroom and at home will support kindergartners' development skills through imaginative play. The puppets will be used to retell and create stories, review story ideas in writing and create role playing scenarios about social skills and conflict resolution.


National Spelling Bee

Matthew Sniadecki - Kennedy Junior High School

Spelling bee competitions provide opportunity for leadership, public speaking, competition for excellence, goal setting and an emphasis on Common Core Standards. They allow highly competitive academic students an opportunity to showcase their gifts in an atmosphere that they do not regularly have, compared to athletics or musical areas.


World Languages Club

Ana Gonzalez-Pino - Jefferson Junior High School

The club celebrates diversity by learning about different countries, languages, and cultures through topical discussions, tasting foods, listening to music, creating crafts and learning new expressions. Students might learn Mandarin expressions, practice Japanese origami or learn a Cherokee dance and create their own interpretation of the dance. No second language skills needed.


A Pod of Podcasts: Creating podcasts with the Highlands Whales!

Anthony Kresl and Kyle Wood - Highlands Elementary School

The project provides new aids to teaching students how to respond to art, make appropriate connections, and present their work and thoughts in a sophisticated way. Podcasts provide opportunity for students to learn about the technical and creative aspects of creating a recording, without the pressure of being “on camera.”


A World of (Culturally Responsive) Instruments

Susan Tarson - Scott Elementary School

Instruments, such as temple blocks, woodblocks, talking drums, gankogui, shekere, claves, cabasas, guiros, agogo bells, spoons and frame drums reflect students’ cultures. Instruments inspire students to respond, perform, connect to cultures, and create, in a highly engaging, hands-on learning experience. Students share their learning and give back to our community by performing at various events.