• The Faculty Excellence Grant was created in 2014 to enhance the quality of the liberal arts program at Maclay School in a meaningful and substantial way. Stipends are offered to faculty or staff members who have the potential and desire to make a meaningful impact and sustain the excellence of the Maclay academic program. Any employee of the school may apply, but preference is given to applications in the areas of differentiation, technology integration, or innovation. Grants are awarded for those proposals leading to significant curricular innovation beyond the normal annual revision or growth.  

    Faculty members are given the following criteria for their submissions to the committee:

    • In the area of differentiation, the committee values proposals that seek to ensure a rigorous curriculum that is responsive to the individual learner. 
    • In the area of technology integration, the committee values proposals that seek to ensure innovative ways to infuse technology into a robust curriculum that is approachable to both teacher and student.
    • In the area of innovation, the committee values proposals that establish new programs which will open up new avenues of learning and experience to our students.

    A committee reviews and makes selections for the awards.  If chosen the teacher or teachers present and share their project at the end of the year to the full faculty.

  • 2018 Faculty Excellence Grant Winners

    A Reading Culture– Janine Couch

    couch As the middle school moves away from the Accelerated Reading program, it is more important than ever to foster a reading culture and strengthen the reading stamina and skills necessary to be successful in both high school and college. In an effort to continually improve reading comprehension scores and help students be more successful, the middle school will implement more of the elementary school model of daily free choice reading.

    This past year in Janine Couch’s classroom, students had access to her personal library and the 90% that check out books have shown an increased interest in reading more. As a result of this finding, Couch will use the grant to supplement the classroom libraries of the three middle school language arts teachers. With their input, she will select the books and create a system to monitor their usage.

    “With this grant, I envision three classroom libraries with about 200-300 books per library, more of an opportunity for daily reading in school, improved relationships between the library and the classroom reading program, and a significantly increased independent reading time per student,” said Couch.

    She anticipates ordering about 150-175 new books that, combined with the books the teachers already have, will fill the libraries.


    Force and Motion 2.0– Darlene Miller and Dean Gargiulo

    d and d In 2016, Darlene Miller and Dean Gargiulo received a grant for their “Early Force and Motion” project, which provided lessons in building simple machines for kindergarten and first graders and lessons in building simple powered machines and Lego Mindstorms Robotics for fourth and fifth graders. The grant received this year will bridge the gap of experiences for second and third graders by teaching them to combine building more sophisticated machines with coding skills to program these machines to move.

    “The ultimate outcome for this grant is to create students who can work in collaboration with one another to plan, create, design, fail, and problem solve their way through a challenge. These experiences will provide lessons that follow them throughout their lives,” said Miller.

    The grant will be used to purchase the Lego Education WeDo 2.0 Core sets (including bricks, software, and curriculum) and the Lego Education Simple and Powered Machine sets. The sets will be then used during Genius Hour and science and technology class times.

    By exposing students to this technology at such an early age, Miller and Gargiulo hope to inspire future middle and high school students to build and create machines and to code those machines during technology class, flex time, and after-school clubs.

    eMpathy Integration– Kim Daniel, Cathy Hicks, Kyle Maurey, and Kaitlyn Dressel

    art Last year, the Maclay Visual Arts teachers received a grant for their “Maclay eM Bracelets”, a project in which students learned about empathy by creating bracelets and giving them to other as random acts of kindness. This year, the teachers received an additional grant to continue their integration of empathy on and off campus.

    The goal of this project is to encourage students to have “creative confidence”, the belief that we are all creative, by learning about and showing empathy to others. The tendency of students to believe that they are not creative stems from their fear of being judged. Creating a culture of empathy helps these students feel less judged and gain “creative confidence” as a result.  

    “We took two of our most basic fundamental principles, empathy and clay, to build creative confidence in everyone. If you can make a simple bracelet out of clay, there will be a spark that transcends into another idea or innovation that will help our community,” said Kim Daniel.

    The teachers will use this grant to build on last year’s work by adding the option of creating eM pendants along with the bracelets and expanding the art into the community with pop-up shops and #850createswithMaclay.

    The Maclay Faculty Excellence Grant is completely funded by the 2018 Maclay Auction and is an invaluable tool for our teachers to access opportunities for growth. Additionally, the grants are an extension of the commitment to on-going, continuing education that is consistent with the mission and philosophy of the school.

  • 2017 Faculty Excellence Grant Winners

    Longleaf Pine Savanna Demonstration Plot– Stephanie Cornais

    The grant provided funds for a Longleaf Pine Savanna Demonstration Plot on the Maclay campus. The plot is about a fourth of an acre and is an example of the amazing Longleaf Pine Savanna that once covered 90 million acres of the southeast. Now, however, only three million acres of this unique and highly diverse habitat type remain. Mrs. Stephanie Cornais worked with Tall Timbers on this project to turn the plot into a living, changing laboratory that students can observe and experience regularly while learning about history, land management, local wildlife, and scientific inquiry. 

    “We want to give children the opportunity to connect and experience nature both to increase their learning potential and increase the likelihood that they will protect natural and wild spaces in the future.  Humans will only protect and love what they know, so this outdoor classroom serves as the foundation for fostering a relationship between nature and the child,” said Cornais.

    Research about the positive impact of outdoor classrooms also found that it leads to improved cross-curricular academic performance, a more comprehensive understanding of the world, improved critical thinking skills, and proficiency in problem-solving.
    A Networked English Curriculum– Lee Norment

    The purpose of this work was to reinvigorate the Upper School English curriculum, and more specifically, the tenth grade courses. It caused our philosophy and methods to take into account recent developments in literary and curricular theory, specifically the work of Rita Felski at the University of Virginia, actor-network theory, and network aesthetics. Mr. Lee Norment spear-headed this project, seeking to create innovative writing assignments, literature units, and authentic spaces for students to see themselves as writers and readers working within and across disciplines.

    “I’d like to continue to find ways to keep our English curriculum on the cutting edge by revising and updating as often as necessary. Now that we've done the theoretical heavy-lifting, we'll continue to adapt it to best serve our students,” said Norment.

    Most of the changes will be fully implemented in this upcoming school year, particularly in the Honors English 1, 2, and 3 courses where students will now be given the opportunity to read more contemporary texts from a more diverse group of authors.

    Marauder Achievement Program (M.A.P.) – David Combs and Barbara Rubio-Gomez

    At Maclay Middle School, the importance of providing our students with the keys to success is recognized. One of these keys is the experience of a positive transition from elementary school to middle school. The Marauder Achievement Program (M.A.P.) was created to provide rising sixth graders with the skills they need to succeed in middle school. By strengthening literacy skills across the curriculum, the program motivates students while increasing their knowledge and understanding of the content.  

    “The Marauder Achievement Program impacted the students' confidence in reading and caused their reading levels to increase by at least two grade levels. 100% of our students who were in the program improved their Reading Lexile Levels and 95% read at or above their grade level,” said Barbara Rubio-Gomez.

    In addition to the Faculty Excellence Grant, the M.A.P. received an additional grant for $12,000 from Achieve3000, a critical thinking online reading program. As a result, the Achieve3000 program that was originally intended for use only from M.A.P. students is now open for use in the entire middle school.

    “All of our students were able to increase their critical reading skills, which is a necessity as we go further in education. It has been impressive to observe the success of not only our M.A.P. students but also of all using the Achieve3000 program,” said Rubio-Gomez.

    Maclay eM Bracelets– Kim Daniel, Cathy Hicks, Kyle Maurey, and Kaitlyn Dressel


    The Maclay Visual Arts teachers wanted to raise awareness of empathy on our campus by using the unspoken and universal language of art. The project is called “Maclay eM Bracelets” and is used with #maclaycares in order to teach empathy within our school. The eM Bracelets are an innovative hand-crafted project that unites our school directly with the community. Students of all ages have been creating these bracelets and giving them to others as random acts of kindness. 

    “They can put initials on it, do different designs, or write messages in the clay if they want to,” said Kaitlyn Dressel. “We also have small notecards where they can add their own story and the meaning their bracelet design. When they give it to someone, that person gets a personal story of the creator and why they made it.”

    The bracelets are not only used as decorative pieces to give to friends but also as a gateway to opening the conversation about empathy and what it means to care for someone.

    The Maclay Faculty Excellence Grant is completely funded by the 2017 Maclay Auction and is an invaluable tool for our teachers to access opportunities for growth. Additionally, the grants are an extension of the commitment to on-going, continuing education that is consistent with the mission and philosophy of the school.

  • 2016 Faculty Excellence Grant Winners

    Schoolyard Habits- Stephanie Cornais

    st Stephanie Cornais received a grant for her Lower School Science classes and the creation of Schoolyard Habitats.  The project includes the creation and maintenance of several habitats, butterfly gardens, vegetable gardens, and a Red Hills Region Habitat area to create a living laboratory outside the doors of the classroom. The projects will be accessible to other teachers as tools to help them explore and provide authentic content where students can learn and apply new skills. The Schoolyard Habitats teach cross-curricular lessons while applying skills such as observing, measuring, comparing, forming, testing, validating, and communicating findings with others.  

    Mock Archaeologic Site – Kristen Youngblood and Emma Perry

    cc The Mock Archaeological site will be used by all Latin classes in Middle and Upper School as well as being accessible to history, anthropology, and forensics classes to demonstrate practical hands-on lessons.  The project will allow students to learn mapping and graphing skills while making grids, using math and science skills, and applying real-life archaeological techniques.  It will include excavating, sending results to an imaginary lab, and receiving test results giving students an opportunity to research and present findings.  Both Mrs. Youngblood and Mrs. Perry have worked on actual excavations and will look to partner with area universities to provide an even more in-depth study of how archaeology plays a role in the world today.

    Digital Textbook for Latin 6th Grade – Emma Perry

    Mrs. Emma Perry’s grant was awarded to develop an interactive digital textbook for the Introduction to Latin class.  The creation of the digital textbook involves collecting resources, explanatory text, and videos of the grammatical material, and incorporating cultural lessons and interactive features that will easily be accessed with the new bring your own device program to be implemented next year.

  • 2015 Faculty Excellence Grant Winners

    The 2015 Faculty Excellence Grants have been named: David Rolfs, Matt Schnippert and Fran Sandon, and Barbara Cairns were the winners this year. Faculty members were presented with grant criteria and submitted proposals in February. A committee of faculty and staff selected winners and awarded dollars for the grants based on specific goals including the area of differentiation, technology integration, and the area of innovation.  The 2015 Maclay Auction provided an initial $30,000 to fund the inaugural Faculty Excellence Grant program. 

    David Rolf’s proposal utilizes 21st-century digital apps and computer simulations (sims) that will employ mathematical models or engines designed to abstractly model real scientific and social phenomena or historical events.  Integrating both computer sims and non-electronic learning sims in and outside the classroom will provide students with a unique interactive learning opportunity.  The Schnippert/Sandon proposal offers a valuable teach/learn opportunity between Maclay’s high school science honor society students and kindergartener students.  Along with providing meaningful hands-on experience for the younger students, the program will deepen the upper school students’ knowledge and strengthen the unity of the school. Finally, Barbara Cairns’ grant includes the purchase of Bee-Bot programmable floor robots that can be programmed and synced with the curriculum.   This cross-kindergarten program introduces students to simple coding, skills in mathematics, language, technology, and design while fostering collaboration, imagination, creativity, communication, and critical thinking.

    The purpose of the Faculty Excellence Grant is to enhance the quality of the liberal arts program at Maclay in a meaningful and substantial way and give faculty an opportunity to make an impact and sustain excellence within the academic program.  All of the grant winners will present their programs to the entire faculty next school year.

    The Faculty Excellence Grant will be an annual program to provide teachers an opportunity for creative and innovative professional development opportunities.