Skip to main content

2023-24 Kahler Innovation Grant Winners

Total Funding Amount: $63,089

Students Impacted: 7,429

Empowering Our Youngest Coders

Jennifer Williams, Davidson Elementary

Sphero Indi inspires play based imaginative learning and will empower my students to design and build their own mazes while they are learning the basics of coding, solve problems, and nurture computational thinking skills. This deals with a lot of project-based learning (which is the principal in my makerspace too). Growth mindset would be on full display with these fun learning tools.
Matt Barrows, Rising Hill Elementary School

Exploring Greater Heights through Climbing

"Exploring" Greater Heights Through Climbing is a project to further develop a student's mind and body with additional traverse climbing equipment. An extension of the wall plus an addition of monkey bars will continue to push students to their next level.
Maria Cook & Emily Wollkey, Bell Prairie Elementary


Mentor is designed for teacher mentors to authentically teach Portrait of a Graduate traits, highlighting students’ strengths and guiding ways to develop missing traits. Engaging conversations & activities will help open windows and doors for students and teacher mentors alike.
Kristina Huston, Davidson Elementary

Learning with VOX

VOX combines fiction picture books and non-fiction titles with audio recordings that capture children’s attention and make learning and literacy development fun- allowing our students to get their hands on real books and less use of iPads, allowing students quality read alouds to listen and respond to.
Nikki Boekhout and Julie Knight, Northview Elementary

Panthers Coding Buddies

Students will have a unique opportunity to develop their leadership and coding skills through the introduction of a mentoring project. By programming Dash Robots and collaborating across grade-levels with peers, students will engage with various academic areas, including math, writing, reading, and science, which will foster a well-rounded educational experience.
Teresa Sportsman, Briarcliff Elementary

Bringing LETRS to Life in the Classroom

This project aims to provide hands-on phonics instruction and guided reading materials to first-grade students, allowing them to develop early literacy skills and achieve reading proficiency per Missouri Learning Standards. The project seeks to promote equity and inclusion in the classroom by ensuring all students have access to developmentally appropriate tools and resources that support their learning needs. The LETRS professional development program has underscored the importance of language and literacy skills for all students. These materials would enable educators to implement differentiated instruction that meets the needs of each student.
Molly Berg, Gracemor Elementary

Use the Code to Pave the Road

The project aims to improve students' literacy outcomes by providing access to decodable books that help build strong reading foundations. Decodable books provide a scaffold for readers by controlling phonics patterns and sight words, allowing students to practice previously taught word patterns and gain confidence in their reading abilities.
Shelley Jastrzembski, Bell Prairie Elementary

Growing Guided Reading with English Language Learners

This grant proposal aims to improve literacy scores for ELL (English Language Learner) students by implementing guided reading groups using leveled reading sets tailored to their specific needs and knowledge. The proposal suggests purchasing a range of fiction and nonfiction texts from levels A-H, to provide rich language experiences for the ELL classrooms. The proposal aims to increase reading levels by using new, previously unseen, leveled reading sets and utilizing data from Fastbridge, Fontas and Pinel, and the ACCESS test to track progress.
Courtney Judd, Maplewood Elementary School

If You Build It, They Will Read: Reviving Classroom Leveled Libraries

The project aims to provide kindergarten students access to high-quality, diverse, and engaging books by creating robust classroom libraries. The grant request will supplement three classroom leveled libraries with at least 1,500 thoughtfully selected books of various genres, formats, topics, and levels. The project will promote a reading culture, increase opportunities to read and engage students' interest while reinforcing books' importance as a resource for the reading community.
Caroline Cerra, Davidson Elementary

Spinning Our Way to Creativity

This project aims to fund five pottery wheels to be used by elementary school students for instruction during the school day, as well as for a before-school art club and as a reward option for meeting PBiS goals. Through the creation of pottery, students can develop problem-solving skills and resilience and benefit from the therapeutic effects of art.
Brenda Roushkolb, Mary Long, Fox Hill Elementary

Intentional Text Matters

The project aims to provide new, rich texts to support teachers in planning guided reading sessions based on student goals for reading and comprehension using the district's model. By May 2023, the aim is for 70% of K-5 students to read at/above grade level and to reduce the number of students reading more than one grade level below instructional benchmarks, as measured by the Spring Fountas & Pinnell Reading Assessment, to less than 25%. The project also seeks to decrease the number of students scoring high risk on the ELA FastBridge assessment from 27% to below 20%.
Ashley Goodwin, Nashua Elementary

Decoding Our Way to Success

This project aims to provide decodable books to improve students' reading skills through explicit and systematic phonics instruction. The decodable books will align with the continuum of phonics instruction and help students gain confidence and a love for reading. The project’s success will be measured through Fast Bridge and Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark assessments and observations in classroom instruction.
Amanda Green, Madison St. Louis, Briarcliff Elementary

Finding Our Spot

The project aims to help teachers build effective calming corners in their classrooms, supported by SEL curriculum and common SELF vocabulary and language, to promote self-regulation and decrease instances of "Disrespectful Conduct and Speech" due to students' self-regulating ability. This project aims to address the impact of adverse childhood experiences and trauma exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and promote a safe and welcoming environment in the classroom.
Megan Peine, Renee Foote, Becky Taylor, Paula Holmes, Chapel Hill Elementary School

Culturally Responsive Read-Alouds for 5th Grade

The project aims to acquire diverse mentor texts that reflect students’ identities in the school and open them up to the world to help students better understand themselves and the world around them. The project will re-evaluate current mentor texts to include at least one selected text in each reading and writing unit for the 2023-2024 school year to empower and develop students into life-long learners and change-makers in their community.
Brandon Preece, Sandy Gross, Briarcliff Elementary

Drumming each day keeps the doctor away!

This project aims to introduce the Drums Alive curriculum to improve students' physical and mental health through movement, music, and teamwork. The curriculum is designed to teach cross-curricular concepts in music and physical education and enhance students' fine motor skills and coordination while promoting social-emotional awareness and development.
Erin Buffum, Gashland Elementary

Finding Our Calm Spot

The project aims to create effective calming corners in classrooms to promote student self-regulation and decrease instances of "Disrespectful Conduct and Speech." With the grant, teachers can build these corners and support them with SEL curriculum and common SELF vocabulary and language throughout the school building.
Megan Foster, Megan Shipley, Fox Hill Elementary

Fostering Mindfulness through Mentorship

Fostering Mindfulness through Mentorships (FMTM) aims to pair at-risk students with a mentor at our school to build positive relationships that enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. By providing these students with a supportive adult connection, FMTM helps them manage their emotions, develop a sense of purpose, and build resilience.
Blake Duren, Antioch Middle School

Exploring Multi-Cultural Music Through Jazz Performance

The project aims to provide resources for an afterschool jazz band to explore and perform music from African American and Latin artists. Jazz music is an integral part of American history and culture, and by offering this enhanced learning opportunity, students can develop stronger musicianship, teamwork skills, self-confidence, and more. The continuing grant allows for ongoing support through new equipment and sheet music not supported through district funds.
Jeremy Faust, Gateway 6th Grade Center

Piano Maestros

The Piano Maestros iPad Canvas Class aims to provide third to fifth-grade students with a piano background the opportunity to practice anytime and anywhere they want by utilizing new technology that turns their iPad into a small piano. By practicing with headphones, students can practice in quiet settings and develop their skills to become leaders in Band, Choir, and Orchestra programs. This grant will fund the purchase of nine keyboards.
Marcus Myers, North Kansas City High School

Writers Block

Writer's Block is intended to create a space within North Kansas City High School's library for students to visit for in-person, one-on-one feedback on their pieces (or ideas or unfinished pieces) of writing that is open during at least half of the school day and possibly after school. This project would require funding for a staff member to attend national writing center conference; purchase furniture; and pay for a professionally designed logo.
Mandy Hart, Staley High School

Sensory Exploration Room

This grant will help empower students to use their voice or communication devices to communicate with staff that their body needs regulation and provide a safe place to help regulate emotion. The learner will begin understanding and embracing the new environment that will provide opportunities for them to learn about new tools when de-escalating from emotions. The most important skill that will come out of this project is that students can start to advocate for themselves. Asking for the tools in the new sensory exploration room can create an environment where students are free to use their words without judgment in relation to having their needs met.
Melanie Warner, Winnetonka High School

The Write Place … All Stages, All Pages. Writers Helping Writers

The Write Place aims to enhance students’ writing skills in all content areas through a student writing center that benefits both students and teachers. With the help of the Kahler grant, the Student Services Center was transformed into a tutoring space. We plan to recruit junior tutors from each pathway to make the program self-sustaining and encourage more in-person writing conferences.
Jeff Lyster, Staley High School

Catapult GPS Metrics with Anatomy and Physiology

This project aims to provide Catapult technology to Staley High School students in the Science department, enabling them to access real-time data on their peers' athletic performance during practices and games. The technology will help students connect their academic learning with extracurricular activities and peer relationships and allow for independent research using human models with proper ethical considerations.
Emma Taylor, Staley High School

Vocational Skills Lab

The project's goal is to create a vocational job skills lab for special education life skills students to learn and practice skills for independent living and employment. The implementation involves partnering with local businesses to determine helpful job skills, teaching and practicing these skills in the lab, and creating a pipeline from school to employment based on the skills learned.
Elias Taylor, Oak Park High School & Meadowbrook Elementary School

ELL Outreach

The project aims to provide resources for an afterschool jazz band to explore and perform music from African American and Latin artists. Jazz music is an integral part of American history and culture, and by offering this enhanced learning opportunity, students can develop stronger musicianship, teamwork skills, self-confidence, and more. The continuing grant allows for ongoing support through new equipment and sheet music not supported through district funds.
Lezlie Paden, District ELL Coordinator, All 5th Grade ELL Students

Remember Me – A Trip to Remember

Upper-grade students in ELL have been invited to attend a special Spanish only showing of Disney Pixar's Coco at the Folly Theater. This film has been reimagined and features a a screening of the complete film with the accompaniment of the 20-member Orquesta Folclorico Nacional de Mexico playing the score.
Tina Rumsey, Oak Park High School & Feeder Pattern 5th Grade Students

For The Family Screen Printing Experience

This is an art lesson. Students will be learning about the design process from start of an idea to a finished screen printed product. Students will be creating designs, working through critique and revision and collaboration as a class, then implementation of their designs. Student artists will then reinforce their learning by instructing younger students through the printing process, resulting in the younger students walking away with a finished work of art at the end of the process!
Kristi Black, Amy Cox, SAGE Center


The project aims to create a sense of belonging and community among students to address rising rates of mental illness, disengagement, social isolation, and loneliness. This will be implemented through engaging experiences and opportunities for students, including quality literature and read-alouds, interactive social and emotional games and activities, collaboration and discussions among students, team building, and networking opportunities.
Lori Dameron & Lisa Elder, Oak Park High School & Clardy Elementary School

Generations of Service

This project aims for high school students to collaborate with younger students to perform community service by making blankets and preparing baskets of writing materials and puzzle books for elderly residents in low-income apartments. This service project will enhance student growth, build character, and reinforce academic and communication skills while fostering civic responsibility and active citizenship. The project has received positive feedback from the community, and students plan to continue working on service together.
Susan Thompson, Golden Oaks Education Center

DRAMA! But in a good way

The project aims to enhance social-emotional learning through individualized drama workshops led by a professional director. The workshops will engage students in various drama games and plays, incorporating subject matter from the Second Step curriculum and District Guidance guide to help students learn practical coping skills, emotional regulation, empathy, and social skills in a safe, creative, and fun setting.
Matt Barrows, Ravenwood & Rising Hill Elementary Schools

I Can Play Ball, Too!

This project aims to provide adaptive PE equipment for special education classes to create equity in PE. The project aims to provide a Flag House Overcomer and an adaptive bowling ramp to allow students with minimal body movement and wheelchair-bound students to participate in sports activities such as striking and bowling.
Meara Mitchell, District-Wide Instrumental Music

Drumming iNKC – World Percussion Experience

The project 'Drumming iNKC - World Percussion Experience' aims to provide a collaborative learning opportunity for students across different grade levels in the district, fostering cultural awareness and appreciation through the learning and performance of percussion instruments from various global regions. Through this positive and non-competitive team-building activity, students will gain improved concentration, enhanced motor skills, and increased rhythmic understanding.
Teri Freeman, Audrey Keck, Heidi Byers, Golden Oaks Education Center

Sensory Satisfaction Lab

This project aims to update and improve the Sensory Satisfaction Lab to meet the many sensory needs of students with disabilities and behavior disorders. By creating a safe and unique place for students to learn and practice self-regulating skills, this project aims to increase student engagement and achievement by improving visual, auditory, and tactile processing and fine and gross motor skills.
Erin Nash, SAGE Center

STEAMing up with Spheros

The STEAMing Up With Spheros grant proposal aims to integrate robotics and programming concepts in multiple curricular areas to promote STEAM instruction and creative problem solving. Students will use Sphero robots to learn complex strategic problem-solving and higher order thinking skills and apply scientific inquiry and engineering design processes. Teacher integration lessons will prioritize science and math standards. The program is based on Seymour Papert's research, which emphasizes the importance of interacting with robotic technology to invent, solve problems, and create, and is considered one of the most appropriate implementations of STEM.