Announcing our 2019-20 Grants in Place Fellows!

December 6, 2019 |


We are pleased to announce our 2019-2020 Grants in Place Fellow Recipients. The Grants in Place Fellows will work with their respective students on place-based action research projects. Each Grants in Place Fellow receives a grant which will support the place-based project, a professional development presentation, and an honorarium for the educator.

Please welcome these eight outstanding educators!

Alabama: Lane Sanders
Talladega County, Sycamore Elementary School
"A Portrait of Mental Health"

School Counselor Lane Sanders, and in partnership with students and staff at Talladega College, will offer arts education to enrich the school body which does not currently have any arts or music programs. Their hope is that through an implementation of an arts curriculum there will be a positive impact in the lives of the students and foster a warm, compassionate, and enjoyable school culture!

Lane Sanders has been the school counselor at Sycamore Elementary in rural Alabama for five years. Prior to becoming a counselor, she taught math for 11 years at the high school level. She received a B.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education from Auburn University, a M.S. in School Counseling from the University of West Alabama, and her Instructional Leadership certification from Jacksonville State University. In addition to being an educator, she is also a wife and mother.

Minnesota: Kathrina O’Connell
Lake Park Audubon School, Audubon, MN

Read Kathrina's Report here: "Avenues and Art in Audubon, Minnesota: Melding the Past and the Present to Teach a Town about its History"

Students in rural Audubon, Minnesota, will collaboratively research their town and school’s namesake, and then analyze multiple accounts of Audubon’s life and the history of the town. Additionally, students will create representations of native birds with watercolor art lessons guided by local artists. Their research and work will be used to create informational brochures for the town’s city office.

Kathrina O’Connell’s journey as an educator started as a student in the classroom of an incredible sixth-grade teacher. Personal experiences and further trainings have guided Kathrina to become the teacher who she is today-- fiercely devoted to serve all children by providing any and all support to meet their individual needs.

Illinois: Teresa Nelson
Central Intermediate School, Monmouth-Roseville School District
"Improving Water Usage in Monmouth"

At Central Intermediate School, 6th grade students will address water quality issues in their community of Monmouth, IL agriculturally and residentially. Students will address the problem through water testing, surveys, data analysis, and community presentations.

Teresa Nelson is a sixth grade teacher at Central Intermediate in Monmouth Illinois. She currently teaches sections of both math and Place Based Learning. Teresa has had a variety of experiences in education that include teaching in self-contained elementary classes, teaching in a departmentalized sixth grade, substitute teaching, mentoring teachers, being a parent of three students, and working in the Educational Studies Department at Monmouth College.

Learn about the results of Ms. Nelson's project.

North Dakota: Tim Hines
Dunseith Public School District #1
"Using Music to Bolster Native American Students’ Confidence and Achievement"

In Dunseith Public School, educator Tim Hines is increasing the inclusion of technology in the music department. The data to measure goals of engagement will be collected and analyzed in cooperation with North Central Educational Cooperative using student's perception data, tracked behavioral write-ups to see if the new approach to music instruction is still having a beneficial effect on student behavior. Given enough time and the 2020 launch of the after-school music club, Tim can look at the overall High School graduation rates and see if we are having any long range positive impact that carries over to the High School level.

After teaching 26 years as a 5th and 6th grade teacher, Tim had the opportunity to become the school’s elementary music teacher. Tim has always loved music, and has played in various bands for 35 years. With the new music standards in North Dakota state, focusing on content creation in music, it seemed like an ideal time for him to try his hand in pursuing a new challenge.

Northern California: Angela Rollins
Chrysalis Charter School, Palo Cedro
"Empowering Student-Led Projects with Mini-Grants"

At Chrysalis Charter School, the funds will be used in mini-grants in conjunction with student initiated projects, such as enhancing the check out process for usage of the bathrooms, creating murals, and buying gloves for school clean-up projects. The second project will be in support of students who spoke at the City Hall with concerns regarding our climate and exploring ways to push their message further. Over 200 community members gathered, and they were featured on TV and radio.

Angela began her teaching journey six years ago at a small teacher-led charter school in a small community in Northern California. Chrysalis Charter School is a unique k-8 charter school and Angela is grateful for her supportive colleagues and creativity of the students.

New England: Melissa Wyman
Hartford High School, Hartford Vermont
"Place- Based Learning Land Use Analysis"

Hartford High School will put the funds towards creating and establishing Place-Based and Deep Learning initiatives within the district. This will include: gathering data, assessing the district’s properties in Art, Social Studies, and English classes. In addition to sharing their results with administration, some of the funds will also be used to partner with the Teton Schools in Wyoming to bring leaders in Place-Based and Deep Learning movement to the Hartford School District to support staff and students in implementing our proposal.

Melissa Wyman comes from three generations of educators. Several years ago, Melissa started reading about "going gradeless" which led to evidence based assessment and into the field of project and place based education--i.e. deeper learning. She firmly believe that asking students to be participatory, active, and engaged members of their own learning can be achieved in heterogeneous settings, can be rigorous, and can lead to growth for all students. Place-based education is a natural path that taps into the culture of the local community and engages students in not only seeing themselves as having the capacity to grow, but their community as well.

Please read Melissa's Project Report from the Age of Covid.

Missouri Ozarks: Sabrina Parrish & Janet Cancino
West Plains Elementary School
"W.O.W.—Westward Expansion Overwhelms Wildlife Habitats"

Co-teachers Sabrina Parrish and Janet Cancino will take their class to the Wonders of Wildlife where students will be exposed to a variety of animals whose habitats were affected by Westward Expansion. After the trip, students will research an animal of their choosing and make a diorama for their animal's habitat to present their information to their classmates and then display their project in the school lobby.

Sabrina Parrish and Janet Cancino have been teaching for 16 and 6 years, respectively. Co-teaching provides a unique experience for the 40+ students. The children are able to problem solve working with a group, as well as independently while fostering a close knit atmosphere. Sabrina and Janet believe it is their job to take a student’s background experiences to get creative in the classroom so they can be engaged and exposed to the world.

Northern Rockies: Becky Vordermann
Swan Valley School District, Swan Valley, Idaho

Read Becky's Report Here:
"Increasing Community Awareness of Local Natural Topics and Human Impacts in the Swan Valley Area"

Becky Vordermann’s K-2 class has been engaging in weekly trips to the Targhee National Forest. Students will address this issue by creating awareness for local topics, through creation of displays for the areas they visit. Students will gather samples from water and soil and will conduct interviews with local USFS and IDFG representatives to gain a greater understanding of resource management. At the conclusion of the project, Becky’s classroom will host a community awareness event.

Becky Vordermann is currently the K-2 teacher at Swan Valley Elementary School in Irwin, ID, part of the Teton Science School's Place Network. Prior to moving to Idaho in 2014, she interned in environmental educator positions for Audubon New Mexico in Santa Fe and Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, MN. She spent summers working in Alaska. Becky completed her teaching certificate in 2015 through an alternative teaching program, as her Bachelor's was originally in geography. Becky is currently working on her master's in education with a focus on environmental education, through Concordia University-Portland

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