The MCPASD Education Foundation held its favorite day of the year on Wednesday, April 25.
The Foundation awarded 10 grants worth $11,273 as part of its bus tour. In addition, the Foundation announced it will be providing more than $6,000 to the District to address equity and achievement gap efforts across all levels, chair Courtney Ward-Reichard announced.
Staff members to receive grants included Clark Street Community School's Jason Pertzborn, Park's Karla Freimuth, Kromrey's Brenda Weiss, Sauk Trail's John Becker, Stephanie Spence, Barb Beyer, Paige Bessick and Kristina Mendiola and Middleton High School's Gust Athanas, Lori Hunt and Janel Anderson.
In addition, Kristin Voss and Liza Hellenbrand were awarded a grant for SPARK, a parent-led group that provides support, education, and a social outlet for parents of a child or children with special needs.
"It is such a joy to travel around our District awarding grants to these wonderful educators so they can implement their innovative and inspiring projects,'' Ward-Reichard said. "We are so grateful to the donors who make these awards possible, and our entire Board of Directors is energized to continue growing our endowment so that even more grants can be funded now and in the future.''
It is the third year the Foundation has gone to a single grant cycle. Between 2013-2015, the Foundation held grant cycles twice a year, in the spring and fall.
The Foundation has now awarded out more than 80 grants totaling approximately $89,000 since it begin issuing grants in 2013. Every District school has received multiple grants.
The 2-hour yellow bus tour included stops at each school that received grants. MHS band members played "On Wisconsin" in each of the schools before Ward-Reichard presented each recipient with flowers donated by Pick 'n Save. The SPARK grant will be presented at its end-of-the-year picnic on May 2, Director of Communications and Foundation board member Perry Hibner said.
Other Foundation board members who attended part or all of the celebration included Superintendent George Mavroulis, treasurer Steph Mueller, secretary Tom Kobinsky and board members Purna Byraiah, Ellen Lindgren and Hibner.
Mavroulis, Hibner, Anne Bauer, Chris Denney and Ann Ruscher served on the task group that evaluated the grant applications this year. Hibner noted it is the fourth consecutive time the Foundation was able to fully fund every grant that was selected during a cycle.
- Pertzborn received $2,500 to purchase a vending trailer for use in a seminar where students grow and sell garden produce, as well as for other future entrepreneurial programs. The State Bank of Cross Plains funded $1,250 of the grant amount.
- Freimuth, a third-grade teacher, received $893 to purchase robotics, construction and technology kids for students to use for inquiry-based research and learning to develop independent or group inquiries and create projects to product and share their findings.
- Weiss received $890 to purchase Finch Robots that students can program using programming languages such as Python, Snap! and Scratch. Using physical robots combined with the computer brings programming concepts to life for students, Weiss noted.
- Becker received $750 to fund a guest performing artist for the school's spring concerts, allowing students the opportunity to improvise African and jazz styles.
- Bessick and Mendiola received $1,000 to support the new Two-Way Immersion program with native language resources and an all-school celebration. This grant was funded in part by donations to celebrate the retirement of former Superintendent Don Johnson.
- Spence and Beyer received $750 to support the development of multi-age student groups (Wolf Dens) led by 1-2 staff members. These Wolf Dens will meet monthly and participate in planned activities to promote student engagement and relationships.
- Hunt received $240 to support student participation in an advanced computer programming competition at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where students write a variety of programs as a team utilizing their creativity and problem-solving.
- Anderson received $500 to attend a summer study program in Cuba where she will gather information and artifacts for the purpose of developing more interactive and engaging curriculum for International Relations, Latin American studies, and Global Development courses.
- Athanas received $1,250 for a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction certification, which he will use to expand mindfulness and stress reduction programs for students and staff.
- Hellenbrand and Voss received $2,500 to support SPARK's reach, including supplies and support for families to participate in events.
"I want to thank you so much for approving the grant for the Finch Robots. I am excited to incorporate the use of the finches in all middle school grade levels. Thanks again for supporting and encouraging STEM activities in our schools,'' Weiss said.
"I am very excited to be moving forward with this musical project, and am working hard to make this a memorable and inspiring experience for our all of our Sauk Trail students. Thanks for so many of you coming out on the bus tour. The kindergarten class I was teaching at that moment really had an experience they will long remember with you and all of the high school band students visiting our classroom that day,'' Becker said.
Since its inception in 2011, the Foundation has also raised more than $250,000 for its endowment fund though Madison Community Foundation. If you would like to contribute to the Foundation's endowment fund, please visit Foundation's website. If you would like to sponsor a grant in 2019, please e-mail Hibner or call him at 829-9014.