Student and Teacher Programs

Teacher Grants for Innovation

Thanks to the continued support of our generous donors, the Belton Educational Foundation has awarded over $350,000 since the beginning of the Teacher Grant Program in 2008. Each year, the Foundation encourages all teachers in the Belton School District to submit innovative ideas through this competitive grant request process. School District administrators review submissions and, if approved, are sent on to the Foundation for review and selection by a committee.



2021 Spring Grant photo

Spring 2021 Building & Teacher Grant Winners

A building grant for $4,313.83 to Cambridge Elementary!  This grant, written by Amanda Crosby and Kathy Mahoney, will be the beginning of the Cambridge Elementary Outdoor Education Center – a shaded outdoor learning space at Cambridge Elementary. This grant project was written in memory of Troy Shaw and Rob Griffin, influential members of the Belton community who have lost their battles with melanoma in recent years.  The Cambridge Elementary Outdoor Education Center will include both a shade structure and an academic and sensory path of painted graphics that will promote active outdoor learning and self-regulation for students at Cambridge.  Lessons for students on sun safety are also included as part of this project plan.


At Grace Early Childhood Center another building grant for $4,993.07 was awarded!  This grant, Tell Me A Tale: Multi-Sensory Books That Talk, written by Kelly Myers, will purchase 136 Vox Books for the library at Grace.  Vox Books combine stellar picture books with built-in audiobook readers, providing a multi-sensory learning experience for children and their families.  A wide variety of Vox Books will be purchased with intentional choices to promote and honor diversity within the library collection. Vox Books audio can even include audio options in different languages for our bilingual students.  It is estimated that these “talking books” will be checked out at least 30 times each during the school year, allowing over 4,000 literacy opportunities for Grace students!

The Hillcrest STEAM Academy Positive Community Team, represented by Melanie Ryberg, TJ Winkelmann, and Philip Jay was awarded $1,679.16.  Funds will be used to purchase materials to initiate a student-produced podcast!  Teachers at HSA are most excited about the opportunity for children to learn using advanced technology tools, to collaborate across grade levels, and to reach beyond their school walls with this project!

The Kindergarten team at Kentucky Trail Elementary received $700 to implement their plan, Let Your Light Shine – A Glow Day Classroom Transformation!  With this project, Kindergarteners at KT will experience learning in a new way, on Glow Days their activities will be enhanced with black lights.  This is a very innovative way to engage these young learners.  Teachers plan to transport students into a world of light and excitement, immersing them in action-based work stations that align with curriculum and stimulate all of their sensesl

Fall 2020 Teacher Grant Winners

Teacher Nick Civitello received $1,699 for an advanced Robotic Arm System, a new technology tool for students at Yeokum Center for Innovation.  Using the new system will provide students experiences with equipment that is used in industry. 

Belton High School teachers, Jullian Kupronis, Tracy McNair, Kelly Wilson, Joseph Kang, Michael Kober were awarded $4,990 to for the project, Mini-one to Maximize Gel Electrophoresis/PCR Experience.The technology  benefits 500 high school students, and allows students to watch the DNA separation, as well as tailor the learning experience, including recording the process in time-lapse.  

Teachers Nick Civitello, Cyndee Regers, Jillian Kupronis, and Joseph Kang were awarded $3,110 for developing Cross-curricular Real-world Experiences with Robotic Arm.  Students taking classes at Yeokum Center for Innovation in curriculum areas of engineering, agriculture, and biomedical science will benefit from this project with increased in-class engagement that tangibly enhances connections to real world applications and careers.

Mill Creek Upper Elementary Teacher, Catherine Gamble received $2,000 for her project, “Uk” Can Do It at Mill Creek with Ukuleles! Fifth and sixth grade students will have the opportunity to learn tuning, strumming, rhythm, melody and other musical skills, including creating their own music with ukuleles.

Spring 2020 Teacher Grant Winners

Hillcrest teachers Kathryn Davis, Melissa Fitzpatrick, and Courtney Ishihama received $2,485 for their Second Grade Plant Investigations projects. Using an indoor light stand, 2nd grade students and the student garden club will investigate how plants grow.

Teachers Sarah Sunderland and Miranda Watson were awarded $3,240 for the Snap and Read, U-PAR and Access for All program. With the program, all students can use the accommodation of text-to-speech while having better access to grade level curriculum

2019 Teacher Grant Winners

Hillcrest STEAM Academy teachers, Miranda Russell, Bridget Tapia, and Jackie Neilson were awarded $5,000 to create sensory paths both indoors and outdoors for all students at Hillcrest STEAM Academy to use.  These sensory paths will guide students through a certain sequence of movements, that based on research, will stimulate their proprioceptive system and prepare their brains and bodies for learning.

Kelly Myers, at Grace Early Childhood Center received $5,000 to purchase an Augmented Reality Sandbox that will be added as an interactive learning space in the hallway at Grace for students and families to explore.  This AR Sandbox offers learning opportunities for earth science and spatial thinking concepts, among many other learning benefits.

Daryl Lyons, Art teacher at Gladden Elementary, received $995 for her project, A CriCUT Above the Rest.  In Ms. Lyons class, students will now have access to a new CriCut die-cut machine to create their own handmade designs for many projects.  Community service is integrated with this project and will include opportunities to design items for school fundraising projects.

Maleri Shoemaker, teacher at Belton Middle School and Freshman Center, received $2000 for her Classroom Re-design Project, to create a more adaptable and collaborative learning space with her students.  Modifications will be planned by the students and will enhance hands-on learning activities as well as encourage more interactive discussion opportunities.

Mrs. Henry at Hillcrest STEAM Academy Amy Henry at Hillcrest STEAM Academy, received $2,499 for Logitech Crayons.  Ms. Henry’s project will add Logitech Crayons as a new technology tool for students to use as they create, interact and learn with their  iPads. The electronic crayons can be used with all curriculum, enhancing learning in all subject areas.

Belton Middle School & Freshman Center teachers, Brian Meyer and Kelly Kramer, received $1960 for Hippotherapy (horse therapy) for Belton Middle School Life Skills students.  Students will travel off campus to participate in interactive vaulting classes with horses.  The classes will help students grow in areas such as social interaction, communication, problem solving, trust, balance, flexibility, and body awareness.

Kim Carson-Swift, Music teacher at Scott Elementary, received $2000 for her project, Strum Up Some Fun with Ukuleles. Scott Elementary students will soon have the opportunity to experience music with ukeleles to enhance learning while in their music classes. 

Teachers, Kasey Westermajer, Megan Baum, and Kaitlyn Milligan, at Grace Early Childhood Center received $2487 to transform a new outdoor play area into an outdoor sensory exploration area. The new exploration area will include a sensory walking path, a rock and dirt area with digging tools, as well as a raised garden bed.

Scott Elementary teacher, Samantha Grimes, received $1554 to purchase new, innovative handwriting tools that will support the development of fine motor skills in primary grade classes.

2018 Teacher Grant Winners

Hillcrest STEAM Academy teachers, Sonja Abdelgawad and Lisa Albright, were awarded $4995.95 to create an outdoor classroom to be utilized by all students to enhance experiential learning in all curricular areas and student mental health.

Amy Huff, Kentucky Trail Elementary second grade teacher, received $1,361 to fund a K-4 Math Conference and Resources to be used to increase student engagement and understanding of math concepts through the use of enrichment centers and fun Family Nights.

Kaylin Blankenship, third grade teacher at Kentucky Trail Elementary received $1,170 to fund Blackboard Boogie Boards, a modern tool that replaces the traditional paper and pencil/whiteboards to enhance collaborative thinking and student engagement.

Bethany Villaverde, Kentucky Trail Librarian, received $906.18 for Coding Robots and Board Games for school-wide use to increase math fluency.

Madison Steffen, third grade teacher at Scott Elementary, was awarded $3295 to purchase the Reflex Math online math program that focuses on motivating and engaging students to improve math fluency. The program will be utilize school-wide at all grade levels.

Gladden teachers Megan Watts and Deanna Crowe were awarded $3996 to implement a building-wide Collaborative Critical Thinking Library.

Belton Middle School and Freshman Center teacher, John Jackson, received $1800 for the programming game, CodeCombat to be used in the Engineering & Computer Science class to move students from introductory programming to more advanced coding skills.

Mill Creek Upper Elementary teacher, Shannon Newbold, was awarded $4950 to purchase Blackboard Boogie Boards for school-wide use. These devices are eco-friendly, and a more modern way to take notes and complete other tasks in a tablet-like format.

Gladden Elementary music teacher, Justin Kohmetscher, received $480 to implement a Smart Music program into the 4th grade recorder unit. The real time playback and visual software is a more modern and innovative way to improve musical performance.

Cambridge principal, Michelle Biondo, along with teachers Cherin McDonald and Amy Wright were awarded $4816.45 to implement a school-wide Coding for Literacy program to integrate 21st century skills into job preparedness through robots, board games and online resources to teach coding and literacy.

Jane Scudder and DeAnna Wise, Hillcrest STEAM Academy teachers, received $1078.97 to purchase presentation equipment for students to create higher quality presentations.

Amanda Crosby, Kentucky Trail Elementary kindergarten teacher, received $1775.50 for materials to implement block building STEM lessons and activities for Kindergarten students. This program helps to increase students engagement and increase early math and science knowledge.

Read more about our recent grant winners here. Collapse

New Teacher Grants

New Teacher Support

At the beginning of each school year the Belton Educational Foundation awards each new teacher to the district with a crisp $100 bill to help them get their classroom ready for school. Each year we set aside $5,000 to ensure this gift to all new teachers, helping to ensure a strong start for teachers and their students.

Jon S. Ferguson Excellence in Teaching Award:

Beginning in 2011, the Belton Educational Foundation began offering an annual Excellence in Teaching Award to honor one teacher in the Belton School District who exemplifies excellence as determined by objective testing of his/her students.

The award is now named the Jon S. Ferguson Excellence in Teaching Award and the recipient receives $2,500 for use in their classroom.

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ACCESS Mental Health Services

Since 2010, the Belton Educational Foundation has secured over $1.3 million in grants from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City to fund the district ACCESS program (Appropriate Clinical Care Engaged in School Settings).

We serve between 350 and 400 students with mental health care each year.  The program is targeted to reach children who wouldn’t otherwise have access due to barriers such as transportation, lack of income, lack of insurance coverage, etc.

Therapists also provide valuable consultations with teachers and school staff, trainings for school staff, and crisis services for children and families in the Belton School District.
Many parents, teachers, and therapists have shared positive experiences in a recent survey. “I love that this therapy service is available via Belton schools.  It gave me peace of mind throughout the years of my child’s needs, through school.”  “It was extremely helpful and trustworthy.  My child knew when and where to go when needed.”  “Please, keep up the great work in the service!  We have “graduated” out of the service, but we are glad to know we can “visit” as needed.  We are excited for other children and families who will benefit.”
As a result of this initiative, we have seen a 40 to 50 percent decrease in the number of students placed in inpatient psychiatric care in the district, 90 percent of students receiving services during the 2015-2016 school year improved their ability to function as demonstrated by increasing scores on the Daily Living Assessment, and teachers report an improvement in the overall environment as students receiving services act out less in class, thereby decreasing the stress that exists for all students.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with Pathways through the continued generous support of the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City. For more information about HFGKC’s initiatives, visit their website at
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Nutrition: BackSnack/Pirate Pantries – Helping Keep Children Healthy

For some children, Friday school lunch may be the last healthy meal of the day, until they return to school Monday morning.  In America, one in seven children may not know where they get their next meal.  Each weekend throughout the school year, over 350 Belton children are provided food to take home, ensuring that they have something to eat over the weekend.  With the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating impact, even more children face hunger. 

This is possible due to the BackSnack and Pirate Pantry programs operated through the Belton Educational Foundation and supported through donations from community friends, Harvesters, and grant funding.  Food donations are accepted year-round to support three district Pirate Pantries.  Monetary donations are also needed to continue support in providing nutritional assistance to children.

Our Pirate Pantries have grown to provide shoes, socks, lice treatments, and more for children in need.

Download our Pirate Pantry wish list within the “Read More” section below. If you or your organization is interested in hosting a food or shoe drive, or if you are interested in volunteering, please contact Sonja Abedelgawad, Executive Director, at 816-348-1151 or e-mail

Click here to download the pantry list. At this time, we are not accepting any canned vegetables or any food that is past its expiration date.

Children who face hunger face other struggles as well.  It is difficult to focus on learning, when all you can think about is how hungry you are.  It is hard to fall asleep, when all you can think about is how empty your stomach feels. Food insecurity for children can be especially devastating, impacting their physical and mental health.  Research shows an association between food insecurity and delayed development, risk of illness such as anemia and asthma, as well as behavioral problems including anxiety, hyperactivity and aggression in school-age children.

Children facing hunger are more likely to:

*Repeat a grade in elementary school

*Experience developmental impairments in areas like language and motor skills

*Have more social and behavioral problems

Help us keep children healthy by becoming involved with our nutrition initiatives.  Together, we’ll help give them the nourishment they need and help set them up for success. 

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Belton Educational Foundation Student Scholarships

Each spring, the Belton Educational Foundation awards scholarships to graduating seniors who will be continuing their education. Thanks to continued support from our generous donors, in Spring 2021, we awarded over $16,000 to Belton High School graduating seniors through our scholarships.   We offer multiple scholarship opportunities:  Belton Educational Foundation Renewable Scholarships, Belton Educational Foundation One-time Scholarships, the Sandy Hamilton Memorial Scholarship, the Charles F. Pitts Memorial Scholarship, the Nathanial S. Holle Memorial Scholarship, the Troy Shaw Memorial Scholarship, and the Art and Nora Hoyt Scholarship. Scholarships are available to any Belton High School Senior with plans for continued education.

 Belton Educational Foundation Scholarship Information:
      The 2021-22 Scholarship Application period is open.
      If you are a Senior at BHS and planning to continue your education, use this application:  (The application period is now open)

Applications for Belton Educational Foundation scholarships are due on March 1.

Recipients are announced at the Belton High School Scholarship and Awards Ceremony in April.

For questions, contact the our office via email at or call 816-348-1150.