More than $43,000 will be used to fund new programs throughout the district
Originally published May 24, 2018 in the Sun Sailor.
By Jason Jenkins
Ten programs and learning tools throughout the Wayzata School District will be funded next year by grants from the Wayzata Education Fund, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that encourages teachers and staff members to imagine new ways to engage students.
The 2018-19 grants, which total more than $43,000 and are funded by donations from families, businesses and district staff members, will include students of all ages, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and physical and mental abilities. The grants reach across curricular areas, including math, art, reading, music and physical education.
“We are so grateful to all the teachers who took time to apply for a grant and for the fund’s generous donors who make these grants possible,” said Adam Hannemann, the fund chairperson.
Hannemann said the fund selects projects that are above and beyond those typically funded by the district and school budget, parent teacher associations, boosters and other existing resources. According to the organization, the grants must also align with the district’s strategic roadmap and its strategic directions.
“This year we again had a great selection of innovative, curricular grant applications from the district’s teachers and staff,” Hannemann said.
One of the larger programs being funded this year is a physical education program that will reach all 7,000 elementary students in the district. The project has been granted $10,000 for the purchase of equipment to create a “fitness center on wheels” that will visit each elementary building throughout the school year.
Sheila Schultz, a physical education teacher at Gleason Lake Elementary, said the program has been discussed by teachers during the past two years, but because of the schools’ limited budgets, regular funding wasn’t available to make the idea a reality.
“Thankfully, the education associated deemed it worthy of acceptance,” Schultz said. “We truly are grateful for the opportunity.”
The fitness equipment will be purchased during the summer and the teachers will work to set up the program before school resumes in the fall.
The new physical education program, called Wayzata Elementary Fitness Initiative Training, or WE FIT, is meant to give young students the chance to explore a variety of different fitness equipment like battle ropes, kettle bells as well as fitness trackers so that each student can monitor their heart rate while exercising.
“Our mission is to help students maintain active and healthy choices for life,” Schultz said.
The other nine projects receiving grants are:
- A tower garden for the new Wayzata High School Compass class, The Ecology of Foods and Nutrition Education. The grant application was submitted by teachers Scott Tordeur, Anne Swanson and Miriam Lejonvarn.
- A computer-controlled router for the advanced woodworking class at Wayzata High School. The grant application was submitted by teacher Kyle Swenson.
- Coding and robotics challenges for second graders in all district elementary schools. The grant application was submitted by Vision 21 teacher Chip Brofford.
- A new chamber style band program that connects East Middle School band students with senior citizens in the community. The grant application was submitted by band teacher Sue Kim.
- A collection of Big Books for shared reading in kindergarten and first grade at Birchview Elementary School. The grant application was submitted by literacy coach Ann Carlson and teacher Jeremy Willenbring.
- A book binding machine to be shared with several elementary schools. The grant application was submitted by media specialists Chris Schiemann and Elizabeth Robertson.
- Mathematical lab kits to incorporate physical experimentation, simulation and modeling in the differential equations and linear algebra advanced math class at Wayzata High School. The grant application was submitted by math teacher Bill Skerbitz.
- Providing new social coping tools through We Thinkers to students at Birchview Elementary. The grant application was submitted by the school’s first grade team of Renee Wenberg, Maura Freier, Daeaun Messer and Mai Huynh.
Since its inception in 2003, the fund has distributed grant funds totaling more than $270,000 and is the only organization that raises private funds for innovative teaching for the entire school district. Teachers and staff members submit grant applications from August through December each year and the organization awards the grants in the spring.