The Ganek Family Student Teacher Mini Grants for Innovation in Education

Lynne Ganek (center) with former winners Arielle Brodecki (left) and Usha Chidamber.

Ganek Family Student Teacher Mini Grants were created to provide an opportunity for AU student teachers to test new methodologies and innovative lesson ideas with cooperating teachers in DC-area classrooms.

The program is sponsored by American University supervisor and clinical faculty member, Lynne Brenner Ganek. Professor Ganek developed this program in 2007, based on her dedication to the tradition of inspiring student teachers to create exciting learning experiences for their students.

The purpose of the program Ganek Family Student Teacher Mini Grants is to foster and support student teachers in the development of inventive classroom activities, lessons, projects, and experiments. The grants are designed to enable student teachers to explore new methodologies and experiment with activities and lessons while under the supervision of cooperating teachers in local schools. Mini grants are awarded every fall and spring semester to student teachers who promote academic excellence and design exciting learning experiences which meet curriculum standards.

Student teachers and in-residence teachers in SOE’s teacher education program are encouraged to develop grant projects that help them to creatively nurture the strengths and talents of the learners in their classrooms. Highly-rated proposals are clear, concise, and well written. 

Applications will be reviewed using the following criteria: 

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Enrichment to the Curriculum
  • Motivational impact to your students
  • Benefit to students, school, and community
  • Effective use of funds
  • Use of community resources
  • Support of School of Education mission

Preference will be given to projects that include:

  • Cross-curricular focus
  • Innovative use of technology

Recent Projects

Caroline Calhoun:
Studio Art at Horace Mann Elementary School

With the support of the Ganek Family we were able to introduce a new medium of art to the Horace Mann students, their enthusiasm in learning this new skill of mosaic has been a joy to be apart of. We started the project many months ago with research and test mosaics in the art studio, by spring the students had really mastered the basics of mosaics and were ready to design and plan for their own. After choosing a personal object to include in their design the students shared the meaning behind each piece and brainstormed the best ways to highlight their objects and also compliment their fellow classmates’ work. Together they chose a common shape and color scheme for their work. All 55 of the graduating fifth grade students have installed their personal mosaic to the "Welcome Wall". This wall will continue to grow with each graduating class, while working on the project with the fifth graders many other students in the school were eager to complete the project when they are in the 5th grade and have already began thinking of what special personal object they wanted to include in the wall!

Grant Conway: Math
at Alice Deal Middle School

Within the trigonometry unit, students were expected to apply trigonometric ratios, the Pythagorean Theorem, and the Law of Sines to solve unknown measurements in triangles. In other to convey the real-world application of these geometric methods, students were immersed into a inquiry-based project that sought to measure the height of objects and buildings in their own community. With grant funding, each student received an architectural drafting kit: scientific calculator, measuring tape, geometric charting tools, personal inclinometer, and charting paper. Using their tools, mathematical processes, and geometric technology, students calculated the heights of different buildings and objects within their community. As an extension, students were expected to reflect on potential sources of error in their calculations and the reliability of calculator technology and charting tools. Finally, students presented their findings and expressed the cultural and mathematical relevance of different objects' heights.

Mary Kate Landis: Studio Art
at Oyster Adams Bilingual School

Fourth and Fifth graders at Oyster Adams Bilingual School are learning a variety of jewelry making techniques through a jewelry club started by American University student teacher, Kate Landis. The club, consisting of 6 fifth graders and 5 fourth graders, meets once a week. Each student has completed their first project: a simple beaded bracelet with a clasp. Their next project will be a pair of wire wrapped earrings. Other projects will include a wrap bracelet and a wire wrapped gem stone pendant. Students will photograph each of their pieces to create their own portfolio that showcases their handmade jewelry. Landis hopes that students will "use these techniques to pursue a passion of making functional, wearable art beyond the club."

Contact Us

For more information and to request an application, please email Caryn Ash at