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Nearpod Announces the Recipients of its Inaugural Virtual Reality Grant Program, Bringing VR Technology to 50 Schools Across the World

With Support from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff and Krillion Ventures, Nearpod is donating over $100,000 of classroom resources and empowering teachers with powerful pedagogical technology


Today, Nearpod, the company that lets teachers find, create and distribute digital learning experiences, announces the recipients of its Nearpod VR grant program which broadens access to cutting edge technology to educators across the world. Beginning this fall semester, the winning schools will have access to sets of high-quality Nearpod VR headsets, more than 25 VR-based lesson plans, professional development, dedicated one-on-one support as well as a Nearpod license for their school.

“I think what Nearpod is doing for education is fantastic. With limited budgets, teachers have to take a lot of the forward-thinking on themselves,” said Drew Olanoff, Head of Communications at River Studios.  “A program like this makes things just a bit easier for teachers, and it will open up new worlds for students all over the world.”

More than 300 schools submitted a video testimonial and written essay which made the case for their classroom to receive the grant. Jennifer Carolan of Reach Capital, Drew Olanoff of River Studios and Guido Kovalskys, CEO and cofounder of Nearpod were the judges who selected the winning teachers.

“It was an honor to help select the Nearpod VR grant recipients. There were so many incredible applicants to choose from,” said Jennifer Carolan, Co-founder and General Partner at Reach Capital. “Nearpod VR does what every school kid dreams of - transports them to a new and exciting place, virtually.  In the hands of inspiring teachers, Nearpod VR becomes a powerful tool to teach students about the world they are growing up in.”

The Nearpod VR grant recipients by region are:

U.S. West

  • Jason Lillebo - Garehime Elementary School, Las Vegas, NV

  • Joelyn Hilton - Mesa Unified School District #4, Mesa, AZ

  • Denny Maciel - Roosevelt Elementary/Long Beach Unified, Long Beach, CA

  • Robert Leete - Charles A. Hughes Middle School - Clark County School District, Mesquite, NV

  • Julia Mochrie - Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District, Roseville, CA

  • Lisa Gottfried - New Technology High School, Napa, CA

  • Michael Williams - Making Waves Academy, Richmond, CA

  • Chris Nelms - Glenview Elementary, Oakland, CA

  • Amber Akapnitis - Phoenix Day School for the Deaf, Phoenix, AZ

  • Stuart Ikeda - California School for the Deaf, Fremont, CA

U.S. East

  • Deanna Mikin - North Royalton Middle School, North Royalton, OH

  • Alisha Bridges - Jesse S. Bobo Elementary/Spartanburg School District 6, Spartanburg, SC

  • Adrienne Wiland - P.S. 108Q Capt. Vincent G Fowler School, South Ozone Park, NY

  • Meghan Markle - Fern Hill Elementary/West Chester Area School District, West Chester, PA

  • Kristen Albright - Penns Valley Area School District, Spring Mills, PA

  • Angie Kelley - White Plains Middle School, White Plains, NY

  • James Aleshire - North Hagerstown High School/Washington County Public Schools, Hagerstown, MD

  • Heather Bermingham - Westside Academy at Blodgett/Syracuse City School District, Syracuse, NY

  • Elizabeth Pitel - Washington Township School District (Gloucester County NJ), Sewell, NJ

  • Gwendolyn Church - Bedford County Public Schools, Bedford, VA

  • Jackie Druck - Manheim Township School District, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

U.S. MidWest

  • Ann Witherspoon - Frank Seale Middle School, Midlothian, TX

  • Daniel Huffman - Martin City Elementary/Grandview C-4,  Kansas City, MO

  • Ben Neilson - Mill Creek Community School Corporation, W. Clayton, IN

  • Kristi Petty - Mesquite ISD- 4 campuses, Mequite, TX

  • Alison Preston - Lawrence Public Schools/ USD 497, Lawrence, KS

  • Lisa Douthit - Turner USD 202, Kansas City, KS

  • Craig Melle - Clearwater USD 264, Clearwater, KS

  • Susan Oehlertz - Pocahontas Area Community School, Pocahontas, IA

  • Diane Trout - Julian Newman Elementary School, Athens, AL

  • Elisabeth Belokas - Eberhart Elementary School/Chicago Public Schools District, Chicago, IL

  • Megan Trimble - Oxford Middle School/BV USD 229, Overland Park, KS

  • Janet Kinman - Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines, IA

  • Jamie Greason - Crossroads Academy of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO

  • Aaron Maurer - Bettendorf Middle School, Bettendorf, IA

  • Kara Noah - Lamar Middle/Irving ISD, Irving, TX

  • Marion Torres - Tom C. Clark NISD, San Antonio, TX

  • Lori Wisniewski - Baraga Area Schools, Baraga, MI


  • Judy Morgan - Lafayette Parish, Lafayette, LA

  • Suzanne Laisney - Fulton County Schools/Hapeville Elementary, Atlanta, GA

  • Courtney Black -  Mariner Middle School, Cape Coral, FL

  • Hannah Hanlin - Pate Elementary/ Darlington County School District, Darlington, SC

  • Davina Mann - Owens Cross Roads Elementary School/Madison County Schools, Owens Cross Roads, AL

  • Suzanne Banas - South Miami Middle Community School, South Miami, FL

  • Jamie Lessard - Sumter School District, Sumter, SC

  • Alan Green - Stetson University, DeLand, FL

Outside the U.S.

  • Simon Gale - Orchard Hill College, Wallington, England

  • Ella Gozie-Iwudoh - Lagos/Flip Learn Kids, Nigeria, Africa

  • Dan Ferreira - International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

  • Ignacio Martín Jiménez - Universidad Isabel I,  Burgos, Spain

“Our goal with Nearpod has always been to enhance the student teacher relationship by empowering teachers with technology. One of the most powerful ways of exciting a kid’s imagination and sense of wonder is tapping virtual reality as a teaching tool,” said Guido Kovalskys, CEO and cofounder of Nearpod. “We’re demystifying the term virtual reality for many teachers out there and I’m quite humbled by the volume of the entries that came in.”

With interactive and panoramic pictures from 360 Cities, NearpodVR works on any digital device, eliminating the need for special hardware to experience virtual reality. Classrooms using Nearpod VR currently can harness over 25 virtual field trip lessons that transport students to Mars, Egyptian pyramids and the deep sea, to name a few. Furthermore, the lessons give teachers an easy way to provide real-time feedback to students via polls, quizzes, open-ended questions and more, which recent research published in Human Neuroscience shows is the most efficient way of helping students learn.

To learn more about Nearpod VR, go to:

About Nearpod
Nearpod is an award-winning education technology company focused on developing digital learning tools, virtual reality and interactive content across mobile devices that provides teachers an easy and efficient way to leverage technology in the classroom.

Nearpod was developed by a team of experienced entrepreneurs from Mckinsey & Co, Red Hat and Accenture and is backed by notable investors like Reach Capital, Rothenberg Ventures, Storm Ventures, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Krillion Ventures, Stanford-StartX Fund, Deborah Quazzo (from GSV Capital) and  

For more information visit

Media Contact
Maggie Philbin
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