• STI Mini Grants Program

    The Scarsdale Teachers Institute Mini Grants Program enables teachers and other educators to:

    • Design, implement and assess innovative projects aimed at improving learning and teaching
    • Collaborate with colleagues
    • Implement a Professional Performance Review Project
    • Design an assessment, technology, cooperative learning, or other innovative project 


    There is no restriction on the number of proposals an applicant may submit.
    Each proposal is evaluated individually on merit.

    Awards are as follows:

    • Each member of the project (up to four people) is eligible for a $250 honorarium.
    • In addition, the group can apply for up to $1000 for materials to implement the project.

    Honoraria and reimbursements for materials are paid in June upon completion of the project.

    STI Mini Grant Timeline for Spring 2023

    Applications due: April 14, 2023

    Final Project Results due from honorees for payment: June 30, 2023

    Presentations to the STI Policy Board: Fall 2023



    2019-2020  /  2018-2019  /  2017-2018  /  2016-2017  /  2015-2016

    2014-2015  /  2013-2014  /  2012-2013  /  2011-2012 


    A Phenomenon Demo a Day: Introducing Scientific Concepts through Discrepant Phenomena
    Rachele Colantuono, Science 8, Scarsdale Middle School
    Christi Browne, Science 6, Scarsdale Middle School
    To create and perform discrepant events that both increase engagement and provoke higher levels of understanding.  The grant will support using discrepant events that are relevant to students’ lives; i.e. anchoring phenomenon. Anchoring phenomenon is “a puzzling event or process whose full explanation requires a wide range of science ideas to be corroborated with one another and with evidence.” 

    Amp it Up!
    Jennifer Giustino, Music, Edgewood Elementary School
    Paul Tomizawa, Technology, Edgewood Elementary School
    To pilot the use of a room amplification audio system to enhance student learning and teacher productivity in an elementary classroom atmosphere. 

    HEarts Math: Integrating Art and Mathematics
    Vivian Robert, 5th Grade Teacher, Heathcote  Elementary School 
    Erin Cameron, Art Teacher, Heathcote Elementary School 
    To have students see and appreciate the connections between art and mathematics. The grant was used to create activity tubs for each grade level with art projects that integrate mathematical concepts. Tubs will include the activity and materials necessary to complete the project, along with possible extensions/connections for home. 

    Incorporating Art in the Math Classroom
    Antoinette Nista, Math 6, Scarsdale Middle School
    To give students a chance to experience the creative side of math and to see the relevance of math in other subjects, such as art. Drawing inspiration from Dale Chihuly and M. C. Escher, students will take an ordinary plastic plate and transform it into a work of art.  They will learn how to make a simple tessellation on a piece of paper and then use the tessellation to color the design onto the plate. 

    Lecture Libre en Français
    Sandra Chan, World Languages, Scarsdale High School
    To encourage the love of reading, by providing engaging yet comprehensible books that will pique student interest while letting them read them at their own pace.  This approach will keep their affective filter low, and allow them to acquire more language - both vocabulary and structures - via the comprehensible messages they will be reading.

    Teaching Africa: A Ghana Case Study of History and Art
    Christopher Paulison, Social Studies, Scarsdale High School
    David Sherrin, Social Studies, Scarsdale High School
    To create a unit that incorporates studying and creating art alongside a study of Ghanaian history  

    Uke Can Do It!: Equipping teachers with tools for music integration.
    Jennifer Giustino, Music, Edgewood Elementary School
    Lisa Forte, Scarsdale Performing Arts Coordinator
    To provide students with an opportunity to experience music in the general education classroom and give teachers the tools to plan, practice, and prepare interdisciplinary lessons using ukulele.

    Utilizing Assistive Technology to Minimize the Academic Impact of Executive Functioning Deficits 
    Vincent Modafferi, Special Education, Scarsdale High School
    Meredith Dutra, Technology, Scarsdale High School
    Lauren Barton, Math, Scarsdale High School
    To evaluate the effectiveness of assistive technology on students with executive functioning deficits, specifically those that struggle with organization and planning. The project will examine how students with executive functioning deficits benefit from creating a digital notebook and other resources through Microsoft and Apple products.  


    Sewing with Conductive Thread
    Elyse Tenzer, Family and Consumer Sciences, Scarsdale Middle School
    Students learned basic sewing and stitching techniques before being introduced to conductive thread. Students were given project directions and were guided through the process:  making and redesigning prototypes.   

    Designing and Constructing Animal Shelters 
    Denise Cassano, Cindy Parrott, Steve Rambone, and Andy Verboys, Scarsdale Middle School
    In partnership with the Westchester Human Society, the Scarsdale Middle School’s CHOICE students built enclosures for feral cats. Students learned framing, house building, layout, and cutting skills which they used to design and create foam prototypes, before building and later delivering eleven enclosures to the Humane Society.  

    Caped Crusaders
    Laura Signore and Susan Byrne, Kindergarten, Seely Place Elementary School 
    Laura and Susan, kindergarten co-teachers, designed this unit to improve student literacy by harnessing students’ superpowers as super readers. Students made two capes; one for themselves, and the other for a student living in a shelter. These capes endowed the wearer with reading superpowers.  The project led to improved student engagement and reading.  

    CHOICE Phenology Walks
    Kristen Martin, Scarsdale Middle School
    Middle School Science teacher Kristen Martin designed a unit for students to collect data and monitor the impact of climate change on local plants and animals.  Students used the Nature’s Notebook app and observed trees on campus using 12 data points. Students recorded field notes, took pictures, and sketched and measured leaf activity to document the definite start and endpoints of tree phrases.  Students learned about the causes and impacts of the shifting seasons, such as Trophic Asynchrony, for example, when a bee emerges and there are no flowers yet. The data students collected were shared with the USA National Phenology Network.  


    Reporting on Immigration in America
    Molly Earle, Edgemont Jr/Sr. High School

    Gourds in Colonial America
    Kim Kilcoyne, Seely Place School

    Sew What?!
    Kathleen Fox, Seely Place (grade 2); Sandra Puglisi, Lucille Kettner, Seely Place (grade 3) and Jennifer Borella, Seely Place (grade 4) 

    Hydroponics in the Classroom
    Lindsay Lugo, 6th Grade Science, Seely Place School

    Bagels and Books
    Tracie Castaldo, Fountain grade 7 English, Scarsdale Middle School and Marjorie Ross, Fountain Grade 8 English

    Wellness and Music: Creating a Toolbox
    Lindsay Blackhurst, Music Teacher Greenacres Elementary School

    Sensory Room
    Janine Milo, Kristin Caldarola, Dana Corrigan, and Megan Matthews Quaker Ridge Elementary School

    Unity Sculptural Weaving
    Michelle Foligno, Art, Scarsdale High School

    Integrating STEAM Activities into Grade 2 Curriculum Units
    Carole Phillips, Librarian, Greenacres and Mindy Genovese, Teacher, Greenacres

    Assistive Technology Toolkit
    Megan Matthews, Special Education and John Calvert, Technology, Quaker Ridge


    Digital World Language Portfolios
    Jose Toscano, Scarsdale Middle School

    1st Century STEM: Roman Weapons of Math-Destruction
    Jonathan Hansonbrook, Edgemont Jr/Sr High School

    Digital Mindfulness Toolbox
    Sima Cass, Jeanne-Marie Castiello, Elliot Cohen, Michael Pincus, Scarsdale Middle School

    Development of Self-Regulation Skills in the K-1 Classroom
    Janelle Brown, Edgewood and Jennifer Turetsky, Heathcote 

    Movement Enhanced Learning in First Grade
    Jim Borgia and Ann Cotty, Heathcote School

    Engaging Physics Students with a Tactile Approach
    Vanessa Blood, Robert Draper, Michael Egan and Joseph Vaughan, Scarsdale High School

    Talking Teaching
    Natalie Farina, Jodi Giroux and Kathleen McGreal, Scarsdale High School


    Exploring Complex Processes in the Humanities
    Maggie Favretti
    To purchase Little Bits in order to teach Harvard’s Project Zero “Agency By Design” thought routines. Teaching these thought routines using Little Bits helps humanities teachers to teach complex concepts such as grammar, analysis, and public policy in a simple and fun manner. By observation and experiment, students can figure out multiple ways the bits can go together in a sequence to do various things. Once students have had plenty of time for recording observations and analysis of the Little Bit circuits they have made, they can much more easily visualize the structure of an argument, or the ways that parts of a society fit together, or the relationship among parts of the government, or the parts of a sentence in English or Mandarin. 

    Cucinare Atelier
    Kathleen Fox and Lin Fleisher
    To combine the love of reading and literature with the love of experimentation and cooking using books such as the Amelia Bedilia series & Mystery (June Jam / Cam Jansen and the Wedding Cake Mystery, etc.) and sometimes recreating recipes highlighted in the stories. In learning how to read, interpret, respond to and rewrite recipes, students will expand their vocabulary and create their own memories and connections to story. Students will also incorporate science and experimentation into these lessons (“Edible Science” by National Geographic). 

    Wearables: Bringing Cutting Edge Technology to Scarsdale
    Lisa Yokana, Christine Boyer, Paul Tomizawa, Lorella Lamonica, Matthew Fitzpatrick 
    From the Fit Bit to Google Glass, wearable or e-textile technologies are at the intersection of technology, electronics, physical computing and aesthetics. As Scarsdale looks to pull students into engineering, computer science, MakerSpaces and design, wearables are one way of attracting young women, a group that is traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields. This grant would allow us to buy materials and explore their capabilities. We would then write curriculum around these new technologies, as well as bring these technologies to faculty through STI courses and workshops. Wearables are an opportunity for us to attract young women into the engineering field and ignite their passion for technology. 

    Building a Universe of Kindness
    Michelle Gould, Linda Fisher, and Trish Serafin
    The purpose of Kindness Matters, an interdisciplinary learning experience for Butler eighth grade students, is to promote a healthy sense of self and a safe middle school environment.  By understanding, accepting, and reflecting on their developing identities, students will better be able to embrace with empathy and kindness the unique differences of others. Our goal is to benefit the students and to enrich the school community. 

    Erik Holvig
    This project will teach students important elements of design and to explore 3D object creation on iPad using an app called 123D Design. Students will have the opportunity to print their creations, have them displayed in a gallery and ultimately take them home. Each elementary school now has 100 iPads, which will allow this project to take place on a large scale. The possibilities and future designers this project might spawn are exciting to ponder!  

    Connections! Linking Mathematics. Social Studies, Art, and Technology
    Erik Arfsten and Jeanne-Marie Castiello
    Based on the principles of STEAM Education we would like to develop a unit that will explore the connection between Greco-Roman Art/History, with Mathematics. This new sixth grade unit will unite abstract concepts of mathematics and the concrete historical aspects of social studies affording students the opportunity to make real world connections. Making history and mathematics come alive for students is a key part to not only their engagement in learning, but in inspiring students to become critical and creative thinkers. For many years educators have taught mathematics as an independent subject with little or no real connection to the outside world. This leads to students becoming disenfranchised and struggling with the fundamental elements of mathematics. Through this interdisciplinary unit of study students will be asked to question the world around them, and engage in discussions that focus on how math is relevant outside the classroom. 


    Image, Sound and Story
    Denise Del Balzo and Cara Hiller, Scarsdale Middle School
    To introduce a new learning framework in collaboration with Jacob Burns Film Institute that enhances students’ visual literacy skills and strengthens analytical thinking using short films, photographs and other types of media while deepening students’ appreciation of themes such as identity, the danger of a singe story (stereotyping, assumptions, bias), membership in a group (insider and outsider), and tradition versus progress.                                                        

    Stand Up For Learning
    Pat Kuschman and Diane Rakoff, Greenville Elementary School
    To research and implement an innovative design change for the classroom by incorporating alternative workspaces for students who are not “sit down and work” learners but may need to channel their energy while standing up in a workspace more conducive to their needs         

    Plants as the Lens: Taking CHOICE Science Outdoors to the SMSM Garden and Campus
    Kristin Martin, Scarsdale Middle School CHOICE Program
    To develop a yearlong research project in which students examine structures, cells, and evolutionary trends as they monitor garden and campus plant growth and soil quality and link weather conditions to food growth and sustainability         

    Student-led Learning Using iBooks Author
    Vincent Modaferri, High School and Erik Holvig, Greenacres Elementary     
    To promote cooperative learning between the elementary and high school levels by having high school students learn iBook Author and share their findings with their Greenacres counterparts. 

    Exploring Time-Lapse Photography
    Erik Holvig and Karen Pelekis, Greenacres Elementary
    To research the uses of time-lapse photography as a tool to help students tell a story, understand sequence, and visualize how nature, the classroom, and even  they, themselves, change over time. 


    App Academy
    Elyse Tenzer, Scarsdale Middle School
    To immerse seventh grade CHOICE students in an entrepreneurial environment that challenges them to design, build, and publish apps that connect to the service learning initiative at the Middle School. 

    Catherine Road Stream: Science Research
    Kristin Martin, Scarsdale Middle School CHOICE Program
    To develop a year-long action research project in which students monitor and assess the water quality of the Catherine Road stream on the SMS property with the goal of creating presentations to the Scarsdale community showing data over time that are indicators of stream life and possible contaminants. 

    Curling in Elementary Physical Education
    Jim Borgia, Quaker Ridge School, Edgewood School, Heathcote School
    To integrate science, global history, technology, and physical fitness into the elementary physical education curriculum by introducing the lifetime and Olympic sport of curling.                                                           

    The Drum Circle Experience
    Michael Bianci, Edgemont BOE, Kathleen Fox and Jeremie Peace, Seely Place School         
    To provide a unique opportunity for elementary students to explore the fun and musical learning that comes with being part of a drum circle group, a harmonious music-making community. 

    Dust Bowl Blues
    Janet Milliken, Constance Shelengian, Sharon Waskow – Scarsdale Middle School
    To integrate the history and music of the Depression era based on research and assessed through student composition and performance of 12-bar blues pieces using iPads and Garageband that demonstrate human response to environmental, economic, and personal disaster. 

    Facta Aut Fictiones: Creating Historical Fiction in Latin 2
    Jonathan Hansonbrook, Edgemont High School
    To use primary Latin source material in translation as a means to integrate factual evidence of the ancient Greco-Roman world into fictional narratives in the form of short stories.

    Gamification in the Elementary Spanish Classroom
    Aimee Lepe, Quaker Ridge School and Alyssa Scala, Fox Meadow School
    To translate the Clue board game language into Spanish in order to promote  student   conversational aptitude and to align with the elementary classroom curriculum.

    Implementing Design Process
    Nicola Minchillo, Scarsdale High School
    To design an independent study project within the Senior Options Program that applies elements of the Stanford School of Design Process within a tutorial setting and that guides students through the investigation of a topic of interest and the presentation of a model TED Talk.

    iTunes U in Scarsdale
    Erik Holvig, Heathcote School
    To enhance the Scarsdale schools’ presence in iTunes U by creating an online site that will showcase model student work for staff and community.

    Using Digital Tools to Enrich Science Curriculum
    Karen Pelekis, Greenacres School
    To re-design and enrich the first grade Plant Life Cycle study through the integration of digital tools. 


    Digital Tiny Travelers
    Diane Anda, Cathy Manin, William Yang, Greenacres School 
    To introduce first graders to global studies using digital technology applied to a popular geography curriculum strategy, the Tiny Traveler, whereby students research international sites and symbols and post their findings for the class community on a website and interactive map. 

    Digital Writers Workshop in the Second Grade
    John Calvert, Jennifer Cheung, Quaker Ridge School
    To create a digital publishing center for Quaker Ridge second graders that integrates technology into the Writers' Workshop curriculum. 

    Digital Buddies: Cross-Age Peer Mentoring and App Construction
    Mitch Crasson, Karen Pelekis, William Yang, Greenacres School 
    To arrange cross-age mentoring between first and fifth grade students for the collaborative creation of eBooks and apps in a study of classical myths that joins literacy, content area studies, and technology. 

    Encouraging Parent/Student Engagement
    Rose Farrell, Vivian Sonnenborn, Greenville School
    To encourage parent/child participation in academic projects outside the classroom through shared learning experiences focusing on the fifth grade social studies program in both general and special education studies.

    Take Me With Uke
    Kathleen Fox, Jeremie Peace - Seely Place School
    To enhance the development of musical literacy in second graders - harmony, chords, group singing -  while integrating the arts, language arts, social studies, and creative play through the use of the ukulele, an appropriate instrument for young children 

    Digital Lanscapes for Creative Play
    Kristen Martin - Scarsdale Middle School, CHOICE Program 
    To engage Middle School CHOICE students in the design and construction of a dynamic art installation using digital and physical media that includes a light projection atelier for the Reggio Emelia curriculum in the Edgewood school. 

    STEM Engineering in the Sixth Grade
    Jeff Tuttle, Scarsdale Middle School 
    To implement introductory STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) engineering-based activities for sixth grade students in partnership with Senior Options students from Scarsdale High School.  


    Alternative Assessment in Health Education
    Art Nelson, Edgemont Jr/Sr High School
    To enable students to demonstrate and communicate their mastery of course content in health education through video podcasts that will also serve as alternative assessments to paper and pencil tests 

    Buddies Creating Art Through Mathematics
    Amanda Barry, Matthew Bernstein, Jillian Edwards, Lin Fleisher, Kathleen Fox, Kim Kilcoyne, Eileen Loveless, Seely Place School 
    To develop an interdisciplinary and cross grade level unit of study integrating math and art for 2nd and 6th grade student partnerships as they research famous people and create artistic representations for display 

    Camera Traps at the Weinberg Nature Preserve
    Vanessa Blood, Julie Chen, Richard Clark, Rika Konishi, Tammy Marchini, John Neering, Margaret Siegrist, Jeremy Szerlip, Scarsdale High School
    To set up camera traps at the Weinberg Nature Center and Saxon Woods Park for the purpose of researching coyote migratory patterns. 

    Cognitive-Linguistic Methodology for Teachign Narrative Development Across Disciplines
    Jennifer Benash, Lindsey Hicks, Jennifer Turetzky, Heathcote School 
    To provide a systematic approach to instruction and intervention in narrative development and expository text comprehension for elementary students. 

    Integrating Technology to Enhance Teachign and Learning in Elementary Education 
    Kevin Blake, Peter McKenna, Stacey Wierl, Fox Meadow School
    To integrate technology into physical education instruction, assessment, and student feedback by monitoring and documenting student progress toward gross motor skill development and physical fitness goals. 

    Outdoor Aquatic Testing
    Vanessa Blood, Julie Chen, Rich Clark, Rika Konishi, Tammy Marchini, John Neering, Margaret Siegrist, Jeremy Szerlip, Scarsdale High School 
    To develop an outdoor science laboratory for the purpose of determining the overall health of the Bronx River and other local aquatic ecosystems. 

    Supporting Literacy and Language Development Through iPads
    Joan Iorio, William Yang, Greenacres School 
    To conduct an action-research project probing the impact of iPad technology on literacy learning with small groups of students who have specific educational needs and goals. 

    Video Analysis as an Educational Tool in Scarsdale High School Physical Education
    Devin Hoover, Nicole Roemer, Scarsdale High School 
    To integrate video analysis assessments into the Scarsdale High School Physical Education program.