San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 21st, 2009
SMEF 'Surprize Patrol' awards grants

ZrudnickcheerTravis Elementary School Librarian Jan Rudnicki cheers as the “Surprize Patrol” enters the library.


The San Marcos Education Foundation (SMEF) “Surprize Patrol” visited eight San Marcos CISD campuses on Dec. 10, awarding 11 Innovative Teaching Grants totaling more than $25,194.

In the fall, according to SMEF Executive Director Daniel Guerrero, the SMEF board of directors encouraged teachers to submit grant proposals focusing on innovative approaches to math and science projects.

The largest group project awarded was to each of the six SMCISD libraries for their proposal “Lucas Miller and Beyond.”  Each librarian was awarded funds to have author-singer-environmentalist educator Lucas Miller perform at their respective campuses next year.

Miller is a multi-media savvy zoologist who was declared by the National Endowment for the Arts as an “American Masterpiece.”  He turns a room into a virtual jungle with an eight-foot rear-projecting system as he illustrates songs and stories for his student audiences. You can see a little bit of Miller’s work and songs at

The Lucas Miller and Beyond grant project had many  leads and sponsors. Bowie Elementary School’s Vicki Partin was sponsored by John Navarrette and CenturyLink,  Barbara Johnson of Crockett Elementary School was sponsored by Conley Enterprises, De Zavala Elementary School’s Paula Bliss was sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, Morgan Benson from Hernandez Elementary School was sponsored by Wachovia-Wells Fargo Foundation, Mendez Elementary School’s Kelly Posey was sponsored by Time Warner Cable, and Travis Elementary School’s Jan Rudnicki was sponsored by Hobby Foundation.

Other innovative teaching grants included the Phoenix Flyers project headed by Brenda Voyles, Amy Lyles, and Gayle Rhoades of Phoenix Academy and underwritten by the San Marcos Bluebonnet Lions Club, the Generation Y Techno Readers project headed by Kim Morgan Benson, Addie Woodard, and Vicki Alford of Hernandez Elementary and sponsored by the Texas State University Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Video iPod Tutorials project headed by David Underwood and Belinda Mendoza of Hernandez Elementary and underwritten by the Sam’s Club Foundation.

Also awarded grants were The Hands On Science project of Sherri Harris-Stokes of Goodnight Middle School, sponsored by San-n-Pac, and the Ambassadors Club sponsored by Arlene Hooper and Clem Cantu, funded by Texas Pioneer Foundation.

Said Guerrero, “Through these funding awards, the San Marcos Education Foundation is taking a leadership role in promoting math and science in our community by empowering the district’s educators to inspire the next generation of engineers, physicians, scientists and creative thinkers.”

Earlier this year the SMEF awarded $31,000 to San Marcos CISD for the purchase of additional science equipment including microscopes, and triple beam balances, for some of the newly renovated campuses.

Z1Best BowieAt center, grant winner Bowie Elementary librarian Vicki Partin with John Navarette of CenturyLink.

ZCrockettAt center, Crockett Elementary’s award winning librarian Barbara Johnson and Will Conley of Conley Enterprises.

Z1Best DeZavalaAt center, Dezavala Elementary’s award winner, librarian Paula Bliss.

Z1Hernandez iPodsAt center, Hernandez Elementary iPod project winners David Underwood and Belinda Mendoza.

Z1Hernandez Readers&Hernandez Elementary winners Kim Morgan Benson, Addie Woodard, Vicki Alford of the Generation Y Techno Readers and librarian Morgan Benson for the Lucas Miller project.

1BestMendezAt center, Mendez Elementary winner librarian Kelly Posey.

1BestTravisAt center, librarian Jan Rudnicki of Travis Elementary.

1 HooperGNAward winner Goodnight Middle School’s Arlene Hooper with grant sponsor Fred Markham of the Texas Pioneer Foundation.

ZBest Stokes-GNAt center, Goodnight Middle School’s Sherri Harris-Stokes with Sac-in-Pac sponsor.

Z1Best PhoenixAt center, Phoenix Academy winner Brenda Voyles with Carol Peters of the Bluebonnet Lions Club.

z1hooper and stokesHappy award winners Arlene Hooper and Sherri Harris-Stokes of Goodnight Middle School.

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