Escondido, CA
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Escondido Education Foundation holds annual Innovation Awards

Winners of this year’s Dr. Mike Caston Innovation Awards.

On December 3 the Escondido Education Foundation hosted their annual Dr. Mike Caston Innovation Awards. At the event, numerous innovative Escondido Union School District’s programs were recognized and awarded grants. Hwy. 78 Rotary and SDG&E, among other donors, presented checks to grantees.

The Escondido Education Foundation (EEF), a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation emerged to meet a need for new connections in the community to support the highest quality of education in the Escondido Union School District. The EEF raises funds to support innovative learning in Escondido’s public K-8 schools.

The Foundation raises funds through individual donations, an EUSD employee contribution program, the exciting annual campaign Fall In Love With Escondido Schools, and grants, which it donates to selected, highly effective programs within the Escondido Union School District. 



Classroom Projects

·      “Edison Robots”- Casey Vogel

·      “Classroom Community & Comfort”- Mallory Resendiz

·      “Every Voice Matters”- Jennifer Moon

·      “Can You Hear Me Now?” – Larissa Parrott

·      “Building Future Programmers with Coding” – Daina Putnam

·      “Mindfulness in the Classroom” – Sandra Gonzalez

·      “Flexible Seating Classrooms” – Tracy Middleton


Students serenading the audience at Mike Caston Innovation Awards.

Team Projects

·      “STEAM Robotics Challenges” – Kim Buhler

·      “Hydroponic Indoor Garden” – Melody Crook

·      “Kindergarten Gardeners” – Laura Reyes

·      “Sandbox of Unlimited Learning Potential” –

 Richard Downer, Cynthia Sabbs-Hall, Mayra Davalos, Noah Barringer

·      “Mind Magnifying Microphones” – Guy James, Hannah Booker, Karol Roberts

·      “STREAM in the Sun” – Zoe Carpenter, Vanessa Miramontes-Solorzano

·      “Mural Project & PBIS Pride” – Veronica Jeanette Gonzalez

·      “Leveled Libraries” – Linda Manessis, Jacquie Mushet, Lisa Shibata

·      “Bernardo Robotics” – Greg Cook, David Boyce

·      “Performing Arts Revival” – Patty Anderson, Dena Moore


School-wide Projects

·      “Makerspace Clubs, Carts and Family Nights” – Tanya Hunsinger, Gladys Zavala

·      “What’s Your Story?” – Elizabeth Rodriguez


Lincoln Elementary received funds for their new (first ever in EUSD) Indoor Hydroponic Garden.

This is an after school Enrichment class for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Every six weeks they rotate new students into the program. The students leaving the program will spend their last week teaching the new students coming into the program how to run and operate the 6 workstations. Students teaching students. Students work in teams of two planting, watering, harvesting, pollinating, transporting, and water testing. The harvested produce is given to the school cafeteria where it is prepared for the school to eat every Thursday during lunch. They collaborate and problem solve to improve and increase the harvest.

Five days a week they use the hydroponic garden as a prop for biology experiments, research and writing assignment, and charting and graphing. This project teaches students how they might feed the planet in 50 years with healthy innovative farming techniques.

Shown in the photo: (From left) Maria Valasquez is the SBRT teacher who also helps with administrative logistics for the program.  Angel Lopez (in the red shirt) was in the first group of students (3rd grade) who planted the Romaine lettuce. Ben Lopez is in the next group (5th grade) to learn, run, and operate the garden. Rebecca Rodriguez is in the second group (4th grade) who just harvested it three days ago. Supt. Luis A. Rankins-Ibarra. At the microphone: Melody Crook, teacher at Lincoln Elementary.

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