28 Teachers From Across U.S. Earn Allen Distinguished Educators Grants

By Jenny Burns, Community Coordinator for Allen Distinguished Educators
January 6, 2016

Innovative teachers from 28 classrooms across the U.S. earned Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) program Do-It-Yourself Guide grants that will benefit more than 2,200 students this year. Nearly $20,000 dispersed among the grantees will fund the implementation of four DIY Guides developed by the inaugural cohort of ADEs. The purpose of the DIY Guide grants is to ensure that innovative ADE-created classroom projects and practices can be adapted to engage students of all backgrounds, in any location, across a diverse range of schools. For teachers, by teachers: the four DIY Guides emphasize student centered hands-on-learning and integrate engineering and entrepreneurship concepts with real-world applications through 21st century teaching practices.

The DIY Guide grant application period opened in November last year at the same time that several open-source educator resources from the ADE program were made available. These resources included inspirational microdocumentaries, "roadmaps" with particular advice for teachers, DIY Guides and online communications forums. The DIY Guide grant application period closed in December, 2015 and with a total of 74 applications from 28 states.


Congratulations to these exceptional educators committed to bringing more innovative education practices to their classrooms and their students.
  • Erikka Adams -  9th grade teacher from Andover, NH
  • Diana Dull -  3rd grade teacher from Austin, TX
  • Tammy Glass -  10th grade teacher from Hope, AR
  • Laura Kristek -  Kindergarten teacher from Chicago, IL
  • Eva Leenman -  5th grade teacher from Orwell, VT
  • Alexander Stubenbort -  8th grade teacher from Lecanto, FL
  • Elizabeth Stevenson -  4th grade teacher from Chicago, IL
  • Carolyn Sturges -  6th grade teacher from Richland, WA
  • Henrique Vissotto -  8th grade teacher from Germantown, MD
  • Annamarie Wyland -  9th grade teacher from Waynesburg, PA
  • T.J. Bonzon -  9th grade teacher from Albuquerque, NM
  • Diane Buchanan -  4th grade teacher from Indianapolis, IN
  • Adam Burns -  9th grade teacher from Troy, MI
  • Alaine Davis -  7th grade teacher from Bothell, WA
  • Andrea DeGette -  11th grade teacher from Hillsborough, NC
  • Jason Giumara -  5th grade teacher from Rosland, NJ 
  • Janice Mak -  7th grade teacher from Phoenix, AZ
  • Carole Ng -  9th grade teacher from San Jose, CA
  • Stewart Paley -  12th grade teacher from Albuquerque, NM
  • Karen Sheff -  9th grade teacher from Kailua Kona, HI
  • Kellie Taylor -  2nd grade teacher from Eagle, ID
  • Karoline Towner -  8th grade teacher from Chicago, IL
  • Meg Allison -  7th grade teacher from Montpelier, VT
  • Alice Barnett -  1st grade teacher from Chicago, IL
  • Debbie Moore -  8th grade teacher from Glendale, AZ
  • Allison Paul -  7th grade teacher from Phoenix, AZ
  • Mark Suter -  9th grade teacher from Pandora, OH
  • Andrew Winstead -  9th grade teacher from New Orleans, LA

DIY Guide grantees will receive between $250 and $1,000 from the ADE program in early 2016 and they are encouraged to adapt and implement their DIY Guides during the second semester of the 2015-2016 school year. The grants will fund all materials necessary for teachers to implement their DIY Guide as well as an additional $200 for their efforts adapting and implementing a new project and reporting back on their lessons learned.

Representing diverse student populations and regions of the country, grantees teach all grade levels from Kindergarten to 12th grade, and hail from 21 states including Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Grantees also represent diverse student populations which include Special Education classrooms, Dual Language classrooms, AP/IP high school level classes, as well as varied socio-economic student populations.


“We understand that every school is distinctive and that what works in one setting may require adjustment to work in others. That’s why we are encouraging teachers to adapt the DIY Guides to fit the specific needs of their students and classroom environments, and to tell us how they did it, so that we can incorporate that into the guides and make it easier for others to use them successfully,” said Dave Ferrero, Senior Program Officer in Education at Vulcan Inc.


Although the DIY Grant application period is now closed, the four open source DIY Guides will continue to remain available for teachers to adapt and implement in their classrooms. The DIY Guides include interactive guided tour videos, detailed project plan materials, learning standards, recommendations to adapt the projects for different classroom environments and online discussion forums for teachers to collaborate and share ideas.

  • 52 Minute Challenge, by ADE Glenn Corey: Students get 52 minutes to find a real problem on campus, document it, develop a solution, and prepare a market-based presentation to be given the following day.
  • Design Learning, by ADE Regan Drew: Students identify real-world problems, prototype user-centered design solutions, and implement those solutions according to expert and user feedback. This process is segmented into the Mindset, Challenge, and Implementation phases.
  • MAKEShift Poetry, by ADE Scott Swaaley: In this project, students work in pairs to write a short poem that demonstrates understanding of figurative language. They then design and fabricate a mechanism that illustrates the meaning, theme, or concept of their poem.
  • 53 Miles per Burrito, by ADE Mike Wierusz: Students answer the question, “Can I ride 53 miles on a bike from the energy of a single burrito?” They must define their variables, collect their data, analyze their data, and present their results. By the end of the data collection, students should have all the information they need to design a burrito that would provide them with the exact caloric content necessary to ride 53 miles.



Inspire. Enable. Empower. The Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) Program engages teachers in greater innovation around computer science, engineering and/or entrepreneurship. The work of ADE-recognized teachers can lead to new opportunities in classrooms across the nation. A Paul G. Allen initiative, the program includes: a $25,000 award, do-it-yourself project guides, grants for DIY projects, microdocumentaries and video roadmaps for implementing an ADE Program.

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Comments (1)
Jenny Burns
1/15/2016 10:52:42 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Congrats to these 30 exceptional educators and welcome to the ADE Community!