Successful Awards Night for Teachers

Thank you to all our Grant Donors and our Foundation supporters who created better learning opportunities for Newport and Costa Mesa students by supporting our annual Grants to Teachers Awards. The Annual Awards Presentation Dinner was held at the Turnip Rose in Costa Mesa in February of 2015. 

Well over a hundred grant applications were read and evaluated by 48 grant readers. The final count was 99 grants to teachers funded at approximately $100,000. Below is a list of518 this years grant winners.

Its the support of our individual grant donors (click on the "Donors" tab) that make all of these grants possible. And community fund raisers like the one to the right.

Thank you to our wonderful board of directors who organize the grant process and the awards dinner. 

We encourage everyone to support our teachers, students and to be inspired to help make our Newport-Mesa Schools even better.


Listed below are the " 2015 TEACHER GRANT" recipients:

  Dennis Ashendorf

Back Bay High School

“Making Minecraft Teambuilding Fun”

Minecraft boggles teams.  It makes them struggle, impress, explore, build and rebuild.  It is communicating imagination and knowledge for all while cooperating and having fun.

Racine Cross

Costa Mesa Middle School

“Get with the Program!”

Software development is a growing and lucrative field. This grant will support a program that will introduce  middle school students to the world of computer programming.

Mindy Lemoine

Davis Magnet School

“Help Build a Love of Reading”

This book collection will motivate young readers to practice their newly-learned skills while fostering a life time love of reading.

Charles Mabry

Ensign Intermediate School

“Graphing Calculators”

TI 84C+ graphing calculators will add a dynamic, hands-on to many of the lessons in Common Core mathematics.  This grant will purchase a starter classroom set of nine.

Jeanette Bebeau

Estancia High School

“Community-Based Instruction”

This Community-Based Instruction grant will provide funding to students with moderate to severe disabilities.  It will enable confidence and independence while in the community.

Jennifer Howe

Killybrooke Elementary School

“Accessible Language for All”

This grant will facilitate students’ ability to understand and express themselves and regulate behavior using hands-on, non-verbal communication tools that are accessible to all students at the school site.

Cara Boyd

Mariners Elementary School

“Love Learnin’ Letters!”

This grant will allow young children to learn letters and sounds and spell words with ease as they touch, hear and build words with magnetic letters.

Terri Clarke

Newport Elementary School

“Trio of Traveling Technology”

Students will utilize Traveling Trio of iPads during daily centers and independent activities to enrich and support their learning while also mastering key technology skills.

Leslie Montejano

Newport Coast Elementary School

“GREAT Readers Become Great Leaders”

With Junior Great Books my scholars will rise to the challenge of Common Core standards and develop critical thinking and communication skills, that will inspire discussion, debate and opportunities to become better readers and leaders!

Edward Bell

Newport Harbor High School

“Move It! Electric Motors”

Student teams will collaborate to design and build an electric motor with greatest efficiency and highest mechanical output.

Aubrie Wilson

Paularino Elementary School

“The ‘Write Stuff’ in Kindergarten”

“Write Stuff” will allow kindergarten students to utilize a wide array of writing materials and instructional tools to motivate them to become confident, successful writers!

Emily Matthews

Davis Magnet School

“Novel Study for the Ages”

Having a class set of the classic Beowulf, and in the hands of each student, will allow me to reinforce making inferences, drawing conclusions and predicting and evaluating text, all while reading a timeless masterpiece.

Amy Lewis

Sonora Elementary School

“Let It Grow!”

First graders will plant seeds, work in their garden and observe and track the growth of plants in their outdoor garden and science area.


Kelli Adams

Davis Magnet School

“Preschool Literature and Listening Center”

This grant will provide an independent literature and listening center for preschool students.

Megan Merrick

Rea Elementary School

“Technology Makes Learning Centers Authentic”

IXL is a computer-based math program that will be used in the SDC classroom to implement center rotations in which all students are actively engaged in genuine learning experiences even when not working directly with a teacher.

Cindy Ronquillo

California Elementary School

“Book Club”

Book Club will guide students through analytical discussions of Newberry Award classic novels. Students will interpret moral and social issues using Socratic Seminar.

Vikki Clifford

California Elementary School

“Brain & Body Boot Camp!”

Kinesthetic Kindergarteners will bounce balls, hula hoop, and brave balance beams in exercises that require bilateral functions, thus exercising the body and brain!

Barbara Harrington Grants

Jade Li

California Elementary School

“Enhanced Language Arts Instruction With Technology”

My 6th grade students will use the grant-purchased technology equipment and leveled reading and writing websites to become more proficient in reading and writing effectively.

Nicholas St. Royal

California Elementary School

“Oh Fiddle!”

Violins will be purchased to provide year-long instruction for all students in grades 5 and 6 and students in an after-school orchestra ensemble.

Deborah Ferguson

Davis Magnet School


This project uses Chromebooks to introduce students to Google Docs.  Students will publish their writing using Google Docs and collaborate with their peers through Google Docs to create informational texts with images.

Kristin Heeschen

Kaiser Elementary School

“We Can Do This!”

Through hands-on interaction with an iPad, students will be motivated and engaged in classroom learning and instruction.

Lori Bell

Newport Heights Elementary School

“Making Mighty Mathematicians”

My first graders will become “Magnificent Mathematicians” using these math centers and manipulatives designed to meet the Common Core Math Standards!

Catherine Mueller

Wilson Elementary School

“Never Without a Book”

This grant will provide students with a core library of fiction and non-fiction texts to address Common Core Standards for reading independently with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.                                                                                                        

Elizabeth Sawyer-Ramos

Davis Magnet School

“Radical Research on Amazing Animals”

Students will enjoy using iPad Minis and non-fiction books to research endangered species and write an opinion piece synthesizing what they learned.

Claudette Gapultos

Harper Assessment Center

“Dynamic Learning”

Dynamic seating options (e.g. rocking chairs) will be used with students to provide movement opportunities throughout the day to help with attention and learning.

Debbie Norman

Health Services

“Non-Contact Thermometers”

A thermometer which can take a fearful or reluctant student’s temperature without touching them increases health assessment data and ultimately better health outcomes for students.

Starla Silver Weiss

Newport Heights Elementary School

“A Giant LEAP Into Reading”

Our first grade students will take a giant LEAP into reading with these hand-held LeapReader Systems that provide individualized reading practice for every student!

Peggy Nguyen

Sonora Elementary School

“Word Work Works!”

This grant will provide hands-on literacy materials to support student’s independent learning time throughout the instructional day to support the “Daily Five” structure and routines.

Mary Becker

Whittier Elementary School

“Ready, Set, Speak!”

Students are ready for action with the use of iPads creating a “classroom recording studio.”

Jason Barney

Newport Heights Elementary School

“iLearn with an iPad!

Do you want to see a student become engaged?   Give them an iPad and watch the magic happen!  My third graders will get excited about learning by using an iPad to reinforce Common Core Standards.  Learning will come alive in my classroom with an iPad Air!

Jennifer Hodgson

Whittier Elementary School

“iPads for Reading Readiness”

iPads will be used as a center incorporating five literacy tasks.   Students will be able to 1) listen to reading,2) read to self, 3) read to someone, 4) work on increasing fluency, and 5) work on phonics.

Katelyn Danahy

Davis Magnet School

“Artfully STEAMing Through 5th Grade

This grant will provide materials for students to explore a variety of mediums as they develop fundamental art and design skills.

Mahtab Spera

Adams Elementary School

“Rushing to California”

Learning history gives students a chance to connect with peoples of the past.  A class subscription to Social Studies Weekly Magazine provides students with multiple resources to engage and create a meaningful learning experience.

Susan Shinners

College Park Elementary School

“There’s An App for That!”

This grant will help math and science concepts become more meaningful and concrete through the use of educational apps.

Renee Tedford

Harbor View Elementary School

“Phonological Awareness for Special Education Students”

This grant will provide wireless headphones and audio books to develop phonological awareness in special education students through listening activities.

Kathleen Ossenmacher

Newport Coast Elementary School

“Hearing the Sounds of Math and Science”

This grant will allow students to attend virtual field trips and interact with various websites that teach students STEM concepts.

Elizabeth Purcell

Rea Elementary School

“I Can Describe Anything!”

The Expanding Expression Tool is an exciting, multi-sensory program which motivates language-delayed students to increase vocabulary and expand oral and written

communication skills.

Brenda Colgate

Andersen Elementary School

“Read-Along for Rapid Reading Response”

Students will build comprehension, listening skills, reading fluency, and the joy of reading with a new Read-Along center stocked with classic stories and non-fiction text.

Deena Franko

Newport Heights Elementary School

“GREAT Thinkers Through GREAT Books!”

Jr. Great Books provide students with authentic, culturally diverse literature and an opportunity to advance critical, reflective thinking and writing through closed reading and shared inquiry discussions.

Michael Ehrlinger

Ensign Intermediate School

“Teen Picassos”

Creativity, individuality, and enthusiasm will be encouraged as students produce dynamic artistic productions using a variety of media.

Donna Kratter

Wilson Elementary School

“Just Think It!

Fourth grade students will use ‘Think It!’ Great Books nonfiction selections to strengthen their critical thinking skills and engage in rich collaborative discussions.


Beth Abernathy

Whittier Elementary School

“Success in Reading!”

Student success is tied to reading and listening.  This listening center will directly impact my students’ academic success.

Rosemarie Steiner

Davis Magnet School

“Show, Not Tell: Making Writing Come to Life”

By studying selected picture books, as models of beautifully crafted writing, students will apply learning strategies to their own pieces and develop into confident authors.

Lucy Crafton

Whittier Elementary School


Upper Grade Project iPad u.R.e.a.d (Unabated Reading Electronically Advances Decoding) enhances reading instruction by allowing the systematic teaching and analyzing of data through an iPad.  

Mayra Figueroa

Estancia High School

“The Meaning of Everything”

Students studying Spanish will use Spanish/Spanish dictionaries and thesauruses throughout the school year to acquire academic Spanish vocabulary that will help them improve their speaking and writing skills.

Anita Peacock  

Victoria Elementary School  

“Let’s Focus the Lens on Learning”

This is a grant in which kindergarten students will use a digital camera and photography to enhance their learning.

Bridget Duffin

Adams Elementary School

“Zing! Went the Strings of My Class”

String instruments and accessories will be purchased for elementary school orchestra members to use at rehearsals and community performances.

Jackie Ames

Costa Mesa High School

“Art Is On A Roll”

Students will improve their level of craftsmanship with their work and the ability to roll slab with greater mastery of the medium.  Students with special needs will have opportunities to access equipment that will increase their art skills.

Jim Blackie

Ensign Intermediate School

“Super ‘Cool’ Science”

It doesn’t get any “cooler” than liquid nitrogen!  This “Dewar” allows us to take “chill-out” science to the limit!

Jon Pardoen

Lincoln Elementary School

“Audio Book Literacy”

The use of audiobooks will allow elementary special needs students exposure to richer vocabulary and to comprehend quality literature above their individual reading levels.

Rebekah Banks

Paularino Elementary School

“Make Your Mark on Reading”

My students are eager to make their mark by increasing their oral and sight word vocabulary.  I am excited to incorporate this innovative software in teaching my students with autism.

Caryn Broesamle

Lincoln Elementary School

“Ready, Set,....Play!”

This grant provides physical education equipment to motivate students to actively engage in mental and physical activities to promote health and increase classroom attentiveness.

Cynthia Almeida

Davis Magnet School

“Creepy Crawly Insects”

Students will learn about insects and arachnids through classroom subscriptions to various science magazines, leveled readers, and an Inside the Outdoors presentation.

Kimberly Bradbury

Paularino Elementary School

“Leap into Learning”

Leap into the world of science by jump starting a new generation of scientists in a fascinating hands-on dissection of frogs.


Cynthia Kaska

Costa Mesa High School

“Dancing with Common Core”

The CMHS dance program provides students with free access to dance training, fitness, health, dance history, and the opportunity to perform on a live stage.

Kerri Bordelon

Newport Heights Elementary School

“Tag!! We’re Reading!!”

First graders will “LEAP” for joy leaning to read using the new LeapPad Tag Reading pens and books that are interactive, Common Core aligned, and just plain fun!!

Tim McFadden

TeWinkle Middle School

“It’s All About the High Notes”

This grant will provide a new piccolo for the TeWinkle Middle School band program.

Susan Markowitz

Whittier Elementary School

“Ranger Rick For All”

This grant will supply a subscription to Ranger Rick magazine for every third grade student at Whittier School.

Carolina Harmon

Wilson Elementary School

“Hands-On Math”

Hands-on math activities will support students’ independent learning.  Math centers will keep students excited and engaged in learning.

Cassandra Flemer

Adams Elementary School

“Real World Science”

Using “Real World” materials with my students will further provide the opportunity to discover and explore science.

Jamie Hardeman

California Elementary School

“iRead with iPads!”

Using an iPad to access web-based eBooks will help accommodate many readers appropriately at their individual reading ability.

Cynthia Fernald

College Park Elementary School

“Read for the Stars”

Students will have access to over 200 books ranging

from kindergarten through second grade levels in an

Accelerated Reader classroom library 

Michelle Lindfors

Costa Mesa High School

“Stop Spinning!”

The book “Unspun” teaches students the warning signs of spin and hype, the common tricks used to deceive us and how to find trustworthy sources.

Juanita Priesand

Davis Magnet School

“Every Day is a Great Day for Reading!”

This grant will have students interacting with their text through Daybooks.  These journal-like books will promote daily reading and writing experiences through a variety of literature.

Ginger Collins

Estancia High School

“Is That True?  Informational Texts”

Class readings and literature circles reveal that “truth is stranger than fiction” with selected memoirs and provocative informational texts that illustrate the enduring human spirit.

Theresa Schneider

Killybrooke Elementary School

“Move It To The Music”

A variety of manipulatives such as rhythm ribbons and dance scarves will be used in music class by K-6 students in music-and-movement activities.

Jessica DeLloyd

Rea Elementary School

“Magical Musicals!”

Second graders will act, sing, dance, craft, and play instruments in musicals in order to enrich their reading through visual and performing arts.

Stacie Laux

TeWinkle Middle School

“Zoom Into The Year”

This grant will provide a zoom lens to photograph school events for the website and yearbook.


Laurie Rybaczyk

Back Bay High School

“College Tours”

The College Tour program will provide local college visits for seniors to understand the career pathways curriculum and simulate the community college matriculation process.

Djuna Gordon

Davis Magnet School

“Reading is Rad!”

Using both fiction and nonfiction texts in a small group setting, students will develop into confident, critical and thoughtful readers.

Kari Rush

Ensign Intermediate School

“Crazy for Carbon!”

Students go crazy for carbon exploring the chemistry of living things from compost to soil to living plants, fostering understanding of bio-chemicals necessary for healthy living!

Chandra Prough

Lincoln Elementary School

“Reading....Full STEAM Ahead!”

Emergent readers will tackle STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) using leveled texts designed to make connections between first grade topics and their lives.

Lucia Vincent

Woodland Elementary School

“Read to Learn!”

Students will have access to grade level non-fiction books.  In first grade, students learn to read, but they will also read to learn!



Melissa Davis

Whittier Elementary School

“Physical Education Equipment”

Physical Education Equipment will provide students with many and varied opportunities to develop motor and manipulative skills, increased fitness concepts, and aerobic capacity and teamwork.

Sara Steuart

Whittier Elementary School

“We Can Read, We Can Write: Common Core Here We Come!”

This program will improve the reading and writing skills of sixth graders through the use of audiobooks and Common Core writer magazines.

Carol Kidd

Wilson Elementary School

“Electronic Scholars”

Students will use Chromebooks to create presentations and share using Google Docs, visual arts applications, photos, videos, and/or speeches that integrate literature and science.


Sabrina Moon

Wilson Elementary School

“Embracing the Cloud with Chrome”

Students will use Chromebooks for research projects that build knowledge about various topics.  Chromebooks provide a tool to produce and publish works to the Cloud.

Dorothy Hickson

Kaiser Elementary School

“Ready for Reading”

Students reading significantly below grade level will be provided a variety of easy reader books to read independently and in small groups.

Kelly Farney

Paularino Elementary School

“iLearn With iPad”

Kindergartners will develop into independent learners using iPads during the “Listening to Learn” and “Working with Words” portions of the Daily 5 management system.

Kenneth Boddy

Wilson Elementary School


ORFF instruments (xylophones) are popular instruments ideally suited for students’ development in musical skills, knowledge, and musical appreciation in the classroom and on the stage.

Angela Ivey

Davis Magnet School

“Using Picture Books as Models; Inspiring Young Readers to Become Confident Writers”

Teaching writing with picture books as models will engage students’ interest and teach them the art and craft of writing through exposure to exemplar texts.

Cathie Schaeffer

Ensign Intermediate School

“Brain Hive”

Give students the books they can’t wait to read on the devices they can’t live without.

 Denise Moore

Estancia High School

“My Book Club”

This project motivates reluctant readers to engage in reading by providing high interest books to read and a forum in which to discuss the literature. 

Jenny Dory   

Mariners Elementary School

“Splish, Splash, Splatter!

Transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students will engage in art projects throughout the year that foster creativity while supporting the Common Core Standards.

Julie Karjala

Newport Harbor High  School

“iPads for Chemical Simulations”

I would like to include iPad minis in my classroom to

simulate laboratory experiments, quick calculations and periodic trends.


Christine Anderson

Paularino Elementary School

“Reducing the Achievement Gap One Child at a Time”

Students who are one to two years below reading benchmarks need additional meaningful and engaging practice time to increase their decoding skills and reading fluency.

Aaron Harmon

Rea Elementary School

“Words, Words, Words”

Engaging and pushing students’ love of reading with the “words, words, words” from Shakespeare’s plays, poems and sonnets.

Hilary Fenn

Sonora Elementary School

“Open A Book, Open Your Mind”

Students need copies of novels they can annotate as they read, novels that can capture their interest and build a lifelong love of reading.

Kristi Lepel

Whittier Elementary School

“Chromebooks for Interactive and Collaborative Learning”

To promote interactive and collaborative learning, Chromebooks will allow students to work together through Google apps and create discussion boards to share ideas and learning.

Julie Crawford

Wilson Elementary School

“A Laptop for the Science Lab”

A laptop will be purchased for students in the lab so they can research and enter and use data from science experiments.

Piper Davidson

Lincoln Elementary School

“Read to Succeed!”

In literature circles, students will read, discuss and respond to various aspects of chapter books.


Lisa Lawrence

Whittier Elementary School


Primary Project iPad u.R.e.a.d (Unabated Reading Electronically Advances Decoding) enhances reading instruction by allowing the systematic teaching and analyzing of data through an iPad.

Kirby Piazza

Costa Mesa High School

“’Focusing’ on Careers”

Student learning grows exponentially when proper tools are placed in their hands.  By utilizing professional cameras and lenses ‘hands-on’, students learn valuable techniques and skills that increase knowledge, experience and abilities.

Danielle Lopez

Davis Magnet School

“Cognitively Guided Kinders”

This grant will help students develop conceptual understanding in mathematics by arranging manipulatives to represent numbers and quantities.

Janet Phillips

Mariners Elementary School

“Read With Me!”

Playaways are self-playing digital audiobooks.  Used in conjunction with the printed text, they support the development of critical listening and reading skills for struggling or reluctant readers.


Jill Pherrin

Newport Heights Elementary School

“Learning with Technology is Terrific!”

My kindergarten students will use Mini iPads in a small group setting to help practice their academic and technology skills in an exciting and engaging way!


Sara Alworth

Paularino Elementary School

“Bringing Legos to Life with STEM”

Crack the code, rule the world!  With Legos “Mindstorm” product, students will have the opportunity to build and program, bringing a robot to life!”


Colleen Patton

Paularino Elementary School

“Fluency for All”

This grant will be used for a leveled reading intervention program for students at risk.  The program will help build fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary.

Kristi Cortegana

Rea Elementary School

“Roar! Squawk! Ribbit!

Students will learn to research and write reports about endangered animals by reading high-interest non-fiction books about animals who are in danger of extinction.


Jennifer Elmore

TeWinkle Middle School

“Reading is for Everyone”

This grant will bring literature alive for students who struggle to access it.

Kim Barone

Victoria Elementary School

“ ‘CD’ Your Way to Reading”

Students will listen to audio books with portable CD players to increase reading skills including fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and listening skills.

Patrick Berry

Whittier Elementary School

“Get Up and Get Active!”

Physical activity is important for student success.  “Get Up and Get Active” promotes increased participation in games and activities which support physical fitness.

Robyn Franz

Whittier Elementary School

“Technology for Independent Study”

This grant will provide a laptop dedicated for students to utilize in the classroom for independent study, research, and presentations.

Diane Clemensen

Wilson Elementary School

“Passport to Reading”

This grant will be used to purchase non-fiction books across a range of subject areas.  This independent reading will promote measurable results using Accelerated Reader.

 Sandy Gilboe

Costa Mesa Middle School/High School

“Students—Camera, Action!”

Instrumental students need to see and hear themselves perform in order to improve.  This video camera allows them to do just that!

Julpha Dormitorio

Davis Magnet School

“Make Reading Meaningful!”

Good readers will become great readers if they explore and experience great books.  Teaching reading strategies with these texts allow beginning readers to make real connections, build on previous knowledge and foster a love of reading to last a lifetime.

Nathan Hunter

Estancia High School

“TI-30XS Scientific Calculators”

A classroom set of scientific calculators will help student achievement.  When students do not worry about computation mistakes, they can focus on problem solving

Kristen Tolzda

TeWinkle Middle School

“Chromebooks Needed for World History”

7th grade World History students need Chromebooks to create blogs for discussion boards, analyzing primary sources, and creating projects that develop content and literacy skills.

Chantal Moulin

Victoria Elementary School

“iPads for Scholars”

Scholars will utilize iPads during class Universal Access time to reinforce spelling, math facts and to take reading comprehension quizzes in small groups.

Regina Herrera

Whittier Elementary School

“Leaping into Literacy”

Students will have the opportunity to continue their phonics learning at home by checking out a Leap Frog DVD from their teacher to practice their letter names and sounds.


Lisa Tupman

Whittier Elementary School

“i-Pads for Reading Fluency”

iPads will be used as a center incorporating five literacy tasks.  Students will be able to 1) listen to reading, 2) read to self, 3) read to someone, 4) work on increasing fluency, and 5) work on phonics.

Sara DeGrave

Wilson Elementary School

“21st Century Skills with Chromebooks”

Students will gain 21st century skills and build digital literacy with Chromebooks as their tool to learn, collaborate, communicate, evaluate, synthesize, and create.

Doreen Ross

Davis Magnet School

“I Can See Clearly Now....”

Using an ELMO in the classroom will encourage student involvement and participation as we focus on the Common Core.

Lori’ Shepler

Davis Magnet School

“Zoom me Up, Scotty!”

This grant will give all students within our second grade access to 3-dimensional visual learning within our science curriculum.

Marie Hisaka

Newport Heights Elementary School

“Enabling Excitement”

Students with severe disabilities will engage in the environment around them through adapted art materials and toys that will improve motor functioning and visual scanning.

Amy Terranova

Paularino Elementary School

“Doing the Daily 5! —Literacy Comes Alive!

Differentiated independent literacy activities will make reading come alive for students as I read with small groups!


Victoria McKenney

Rea Elementary School

“Pianos for Performing 1st Graders”

First grade students will learn piano, music theory, rhythm, and performance in a classroom setting.  This exposure will be a gateway to the music world.

Patricia Poveda

Victoria Elementary School

“ ‘Uke’ Can Play too”

This grant will provide a set of ukuleles for students so they have the opportunity to learn a new instrument.

Brynn Kelly

Whittier Elementary School

“Fingertip Knowledge with Technology”

Rigorous learning is interesting and engaging using iPads for recording and writing stories, reading primary sources, and collaborating in math, science and social studies. 

Tanya Madero

Davis Magnet School

“I Can See Clearly Now”

This grant will provide hands-on experiences that engage students and will help them understand complex, abstract, and conceptual mathematical content.