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Dysart Education Foundation Awards Mini-Grants


 The Dysart Education Foundation (DEF) recently announced seven recipients for the 2020 fall teacher mini-grants totaling $10,504.  This opportunity was made possible by donations from the Estelle Russo Trust.  Submissions were awarded based on projects that incorporate arts education and creativity in student learning, and winners include:

  • Physical Education teacher Chuck Molett and Music teacher Randall Badsgard at Sunset Hills Elementary School received a grant to refit and update performance arts space in their gymnasium. Sunset Hills is expanding and enhancing performance opportunities for students by updating the equipment and modifying the existing infrastructure, which will streamline the processes and practices associated with larger performance events.  

  • Jack Broughton, Band teacher at Marley Park Elementary School will use the funds to purchase Wind Instrument Try-Out Kits. The kits contain plastic versions of six different instrument mouthpieces which can be easily disinfected between uses and will help guide students toward finding the instrument that is the best fit for the student.  

  • Jordan Mooney, Band teacher at Dysart High School received funds to purchase music holders and lyres, called “flip folders”, that attach to the students’ instruments. Until now, the band had to memorize every piece of marching band music. The flip folders will allow students to spend more time on making music and less time memorizing.  

  • Laurel Ruff, Music teacher at Marley Park Elementary School will use the grant to purchase soprano ukuleles, half-size guitars, hand drums and jingle bell clusters.  Students in grades K-8 will engage in learning music from diverse regions of the world, their languages, instrumentation and heritage.

  • Mario Hiter, Art teacher at Shadow Ridge High School received a grant for Native American inspired ceramic rainsticks.  Students will study the cultural significance of rainsticks around the world as used by Native American Huichol tribe and the African tribes Togo and Pangwe. Students will create their own version of rainsticks using extruded hollow forms with an extruder purchased with the grant funds.  Students will design motives and imagery discussed from tribes, while adding their own artistic flair with three-dimensional sculpting and two-dimensional carving.  

  • Nora Torres, Dance teacher at West Point Elementary School will use the grant to purchase a portable stage, wireless headsets and a soundboard. Students are working towards their end-of-year Theater Production and Dance Recital. 

  • Matthew Aragon, Art teacher at Willow Canyon High School received funding for Wheels for Willow. Throwing on a pottery wheel is one of the most challenging and rewarding ceramics techniques.  An addition of one more pottery wheel to the two already in the classroom will allow students a greater opportunity to learn and master the process.

The Dysart Education Foundation (DEF) is a non-profit organization supporting students and teachers in the Dysart Unified School District. For more information about DEF or to make a donation, please visit

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