LINDALE — Students at Lindale ISD’s Velma Penny Elementary School library jumped and danced around with joy Thursday morning as they saw the high school drumline, cheerleaders, Eagle mascot and community members come into their school.

Velma Penny and the district’s other elementary campus, College Street Elementary, each received a Lindale ISD Education Foundation grant of $8,069 to fund a book vending machine, titled “Be a Reading Machine,” to encourage students to be respectful and responsible.

Students are able to earn tokens for good behavior, grades, perfect attendance or meeting their goals. They can then cash their tokens in for a book of their choice out of the vending machine.

Kaela Deslatte, Velma Penny Elementary School principal, said the book vending machines will serve as a way to integrate some good incentives and encourage literacy.

“We’re really excited about being able to utilize that with some campus incentives that we already have established,” Deslatte said. “This is a very important age level to get kids excited about reading. So that’s one thing we’re hoping and knowing that this will do is get them excited about reading and get books in the hands of students.”

These grants were among several the Lindale ISD Education Foundation surprised teachers with during the district’s Grant Patrol across four campuses, including Lindale High, EJ Moss Intermediate and the two elementary schools. The grants totaled $22,059.18.

Administrators, the band, cheerleaders, the school mascot, donors and volunteers marched through the hallways with school spirit to celebrate the grant awards.

Deslatte said Grant Patrol is always exciting, but especially this year after the 2020 celebration had to be changed due to COVID-19. Last year, donors, administrators and board members drove by grant recipients’ homes for a drive-by parade.

“It’s just a fun way to get the community involved in our school, but it also really gets the kids excited. It’s just the Lindale spirit; it’s energizing,” Deslatte said. “It was even more exciting today considering we didn’t get to do that last year — to see the kids involved and see the kids get excited since we didn’t get that piece last year.”

She added the celebration allows school officials to show the kids that people in Lindale ISD care about their education.

“I love how the kids can see the community care about them and what’s going on in the classroom. The other thing, for the kids, it’s just fun because the high school kids come and the eagle was here and the band was here. So, it’s really fun for the kids, and even if they don’t fully understand what’s going on it definitely makes for a fun thing for the kids to enjoy,” Deslatte said. “It really is a testament to our district and our whole community and to the success of our school district.”

John Driver, Lindale ISD Education Foundation board member, called the Grant Patrol the “highlight of the year” for the foundation, a nonprofit supported through donations from individuals, businesses and corporations. Grant distribution from the foundation began in 2009.

“We spend all year trying to raise money for them and giving them away is the highlight of our year,” Driver said. “We didn’t get to go on the Grant Patrol last year. We had to do it in the cars. That was fun, but you get the excitement (this year).”

Driver, who has been a part of the foundation board since 2008, said the foundation works to create money for grants for innovative classroom teaching projects. He enjoys the community involvement to help the district’s students.

“It’s a labor of love for me because I spent all my life working with kids and teachers,” Driver said. “So to be able to do this, it’s very fulfilling to me and I’m delighted to do it.”

Lindsay Kelly, Lindale High graphic design teacher and girls golf coach, was also among the teachers surprised with a grant. Her award is titled, “Skills on Par,” and has a worth of $1,819.95.

Kelly’s grant will supply golf mats and nets to be used for student athletes, physical education students, life skills adaptive PE class and campers in the Lindale area.

She said the materials will help her golf team when practices are canceled due to rain as well as introduce golf to PE students.

“We’ve had to cancel a lot of practices, especially this year (one time due to snow of course), but usually it’s because of rain,” Kelly said. “This will allow us to just get in the gym because it’s golf, it’s turf and mats and nets. And so, it will allow us to take those mats and nets into the gym and continuing practicing and building momentum instead of having to sit at home and do nothing on rainy days.”

She was sitting at her desk when all of a sudden she and her class heard the drumline.

“We all just ran outside and at first I didn’t know what was happening because it was just a sea of people,” Kelly said. “When I saw (Lindale ISD Education Foundation board member) Ms. (Robbie) Lyons, I knew it was Grant Patrol, and I just got really excited. It felt really good, it was exciting.”

The grant will also allow the life skills PE students to use the golf mats and nets, she said. This was Kelly’s first time to receive a foundation grant.

“One year, I got to be on the Grant Patrol, so that was fun getting to be a part of it and seeing how teachers are so excited,” she said. “The benefit of doing a little extra work is such a big payoff for the kids because it’s all going to come back to the kids. So it was so fun to now be on both sides of it.”

Other grants

The grant, Eye in the Sky, which totals $3,200, provides a drone to help coaches view plays and practice film from a different angle using a zoom feature.

Life Skills: Ready, Set, Listen, Learn, Collaborate will teach concepts of reading and social skills by using fun stories and incorporating manipulatives and puppets to keep life skills students’ attention. The students in the Ready, Set, Teach program at Lindale High School will help create storytelling kits to use with life skills students. The goal is to have high school students come to E.J. Moss Intermediate and read books while using the manipulatives to represent main characters and events in the story. The award totals $718.94.

Remember the Alamo: Texas HistoryTrunk, which totals $1,011.45, will provide students with hands-on experience into the lives of Alamo defenders in the fourth-grade Texas history classroom.

Let’s Get Physical … With Sensors, which is worth $7,239.84, gives students the chance to use sensors in their physics labs to gather data and apply knowledge regarding speed, velocity, sound, voltage and more.


Multimedia Journalist

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.