Waco: WISD Foundation Prize Patrol goes virtual

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The coronavirus may have canceled the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Waco ISD Education Foundation, but it didn't stop the foundation for giving educators from the most grant money in recent years.

The coronavirus may have canceled the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Waco ISD Education Foundation, but it didn't stop the foundation for giving educators from the most grant money in recent years.

The foundation's SurPRIZE Patrol awarded more than $125,000 in grants to WISD educators Thursday afternoon.

"As a member of the local business community and an alumnus of Waco ISD, that’s a pretty exciting thing to be a part of," said Taylor Bledsoe, Chairman of the Waco ISD Education Foundation Board of Directors and VP of Sturdisteel.

"Each year, I’m amazed by the creativity and innovation shown through these grant proposals, but this year, we heard from the committee that these were some of the best."

During a normal year, the foundation buses from campus-to-campus to hand-deliver the news to teachers whose ideas were picked to be funded.

However, due to COVID-19, recipients were surprised virtually.

"Even during such difficult and uncertain times, our teachers and administrators across the district have put so much time and thought into these grant proposals, and I’m excited to see these projects implemented in our classrooms," said Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon.

Thirty one grants of varying amounts were given to educators at 11 Waco ISD schools--they asked for everything from 3D printers, to special effects makeup, to a greenhouse and even a TV studio for their students.

"We have this great studio space at Waco High, but we didn't quite have all the materials to make a television-type studio out of it," Waco High School AV teacher Will Burney explained about his $2,700 grant.

"I figure it would give the students a chance to sort of act like they would if they were in a television studio, and they can make video announcements for the school and do different projects in the space."

While the grants themselves are a surprise for teachers, the biggest surprise this year was how much was able to be awarded after the foundation’s biggest benefit was canceled.

The 14th Annual H-E-B Celebrity Cookoff was supposed to take place March 27 at the Waco Convention Center but was called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've had some very generous sponsors," said Josh Wucher, executive director for communications for the Waco ISD.

"They see the benefit and need to fund our educators."

"We've very appreciative," he said.

According to WISD officials, this year more than$125,300 was awarded compared to about $113,600 last year.

In 2018 it was almost $112,000, and it was just more than $107,000 in 2017.

In total, more than $1.8 million has been granted over the past 15 years, officials said.