Skip to Content Skip to Footer Accessibility Concerns
Front of Dysart Unified School District Building

DEF awards mini grants


The Dysart Education Foundation (DEF) recently announced teacher recipients for the 2019-2020 mini grants.  Focused on projects to enhance learning in the Dysart Unified School District, the competitive mini grants application process is based on originality, professionalism, and how the project benefits students through involvement. This opportunity was made possible by funds from the district United Way campaign, community contributions, and donations from the Estelle Russo Trust. 

Dr. John Hammitt, Band Director at Dysart and Luke Elementary schools received funds to purchase band equipment and sheet music to build the band libraries at both schools and allow the students to perform different styles of music and compositions for upcoming performances.

Sara Mendoza, Art teacher at Rancho Gabriela Elementary School will utilize the grant to purchase clay and materials.  Students will have the opportunity to explore various cultures and traditions through artistic expression including: creating Navajo-inspired jewelry, carving personal tiki’s, and learning about Polynesian culture and ancient Maori mythology.

Suzanne Putman, Art teacher at Sunset Hills Elementary School received the grant to purchase digital cameras.  This will allow students to learn photography techniques and understand how various types of media are created as they learn art techniques. 

Rachel Kelley, iExplore teacher at Asante Preparatory Academy received funds to purchase Galaxy tablets. Students will have multiple opportunities, through personalized learning and the Design Thinking Process, to use coding and robotics to solve problems. There will be a variety of learning opportunities in the areas of graphic design and media production.

Michele Gillespie, Exceptional Services teacher of 3rd-5th grades at Dysart Elementary School will use funds to purchase new Chromebooks. Special Education students will be able to access curriculum in a modified and differentiated way, building not only academic foundations but life skills needed in the real world.

Sixth Grade Teachers Rebekah Mach, Julia Marshall, and Tamarro Washington at Kingswood Elementary School will use the grant to coordinate a Science Camp field trip to Chapel Rock in Prescott, AZ for 6th graders to participate in the hands-on application of science.

Kathryn Voss, iExplore teacher at Marley Park Elementary School received funds to purchase a traveling project cart and materials to support the school’s signature program “Young Entrepreneurs”.

Brandi Moore, Art teacher at Shadow Ridge High School will use funds to purchase Chromebooks which will be utilized for research for AP Art portfolios and for students in other art classes. 

Lora McFarland, Preschool teacher at Mountain View Elementary received the grant to purchase materials that will encourage collaboration and cooperation to build, create, and discover as preschoolers are introduced to science, art, math, and engineering concepts such as gravity, magnetism, shapes, patterns, heavy vs. light, and early math skills.

Emma Horlick, 9-12th American Sign Language teacher at Willow Canyon High School will use funds to give students learning American Sign Language the opportunity to learn to read and write Braille letters and numbers.

Delbertta A. Smolinski, 4-5th grade teacher at Riverview School received funds for students in 4th-5th grades to attend a field trip to Lake Pleasant Desert Outdoor Center. This hands-on learning opportunity is aligned to the standards in science, social studies, physical activity, art, and workplace skills development. 

Lisa Moberg, teacher at Sunset Hills Elementary School received the grant for the Bobcat Garden Club, allowing K-8 students to collaborate and mentor through the Seed Project which teaches the importance of growing plants from seed, nurturing their maturation into flower and fruit, and thus creating seeds as an end result.

In addition to funding mini grants, DEF funds scholarships for graduating Dysart district seniors.  Pictures and information about current scholarship recipients are available on the DEF Facebook page.

DEF is currently reaching out to the community for their annual scholarship drive.  Businesses and individuals can now donate funds for a designated, named scholarship for deserving students who demonstrate excellence, community involvement, and are in need of financial assistance. Please visit for more information regarding scholarships and mini grants.

For More Information

15802 N Parkview Place, Surprise