Annie Wright Schools Parents’ Association Launches Endeavor Grants Program

Annie Wright Schools Parents’ Association (AWSPA) launched the Endeavor Grants program and has announced the inaugural class of recipients. Designed to model the importance of lifelong learning, an essential component of an Annie Wright Schools (AWS) education, Endeavor Grants provide opportunities for faculty and staff to explore an interest, curiosity or passion. 

AWSPA opened the application process in fall 2020, with plans to support up to $10,000 in Endeavor Grants. AWS contributed another $10,000. AWS employees could apply for as much as $2,000 per individual, with a maximum of $20,000 total awarded. Recipients must complete the activity within a specific time frame, provide a reflection on the activity, and are expected to continue employment at AWS the following academic year.

"While activities funded by Endeavor Grants should have a connection to Annie Wright Schools’ mission, the purpose is to fund creative engagement,” shared Head of Annie Wright Schools Jake Guadnola. “Interesting people make for an interesting community, and we definitely want to be an interesting community.”

“On behalf of the Annie Wright Schools Parents’ Association and my fellow volunteer board, I am thrilled to announce the inaugural class of Endeavor Grants,” said AWSPA President Dawn Turnipseed. “The recipients model the very International Baccalaureate Learner Profile traits that they instill in our children.”

The inaugural class of 2020-2021 Endeavor Grants recipients:

  • Malcolm Davidson, Lower School Grade 5 Teacher, will complete a Level I avalanche safety course.

  • Patrick Graham, Upper School for Girls Social Studies Teacher, will travel to the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota to speak with members of eight Dakota Sioux Tribes and to observe a local high school. His aim is to learn about the oral traditions of one of North America's largest indigenous communities and share their stories, which are largely absent from high school textbooks and curricula, in his lesson plans. He also hopes to instill in students an appreciation for representation and teach about using one's platform to elevate overlooked voices.

  • Lila Hemsell, Upper School for Girls English Teacher, will take two rock climbing courses with the American Alpine Institute.

  • Chelen Johnson, Upper School for Girls Science Teacher, will cull the collections of the Library of Congress, NASA and the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum to investigate the "First Lady Astronaut Trainees," and learn more about how these women coped with the physical and psychological stresses they endured during their intensive testing and training in relative obscurity. 

  • Josh Mitchell, Upper School for Boys Social Studies Teacher & Dorm Parent, will start and maintain a YouTube channel with supplemental material for students in both Upper Schools on various school and life topics while building his skills as both videographer and producer.

  • Bridgette O'Brien, Upper Schools for Girls Social Studies Teacher, will visit schools and spend time with secondary school educators in South Africa for two weeks in 2022 to better understand the ways that South Africa's secondary school curriculum was transformed post-apartheid.

  • Kyle Price, Middle School English Teacher, will attend monthly contemporary plays and productions in hopes of broadening his exposure and awareness, provoking healthy conversation with fellow attendees, and possibly researching more on the topic or discussion.

  • Andrea Stangenberg, Middle School Learning Support Specialist, will complete Specialist Level Training in the field of Cognitive Disorders.

  • Heidi Theiss, Lower School Spanish Teacher, will participate in Breathe for Change's 200-Hour Digital Yoga Teacher Training and Social-Emotional Learning Facilitation for educators.

  • John Weir, Upper School for Girls Arts Teacher, will attend Hand Tool Heaven: Joinery Fundamentals, a class through The Port Townsend School of Woodworking.

  • Sarah Wenzlick, Upper School for Girls Spanish Teacher & Dorm Parent, will travel to Argentina to visit Annie Wright's international exchange partner school, Colegio Pestalozzi, to meet potential host families; observe, compare and contrast how they run their IB Language classes; and prepare cultural activities for AWS students upon her return.

We look forward to reporting back on these incredible endeavors! Thank you to our generous AWSPA for investing in our faculty and staff team.


Annie Wright Schools
827 North Tacoma Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98403


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Founded in Tacoma, Washington, in 1884, Annie Wright Schools serve students from age three through high school. Annie Wright Lower and Middle Schools offer coed programs in Preschool through Grade 8, while separate Upper Schools for girls and boys offer day and boarding options in Grades 9 through 12. Annie Wright is proud to be an International Baccalaureate World School.