Every Student, Every Day, A Success! What does this mean?

Grand Island Public Schools Foundation awards classroom mini-grants

Grand Island Public Schools Foundation Board members surprised teachers and students in the Grand Island Public Schools when they arrived at schools Tuesday and Wednesday to award 17 classroom mini-grants.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation awards mini-grants in two rounds on an annual basis. Mini-grants are designed to fund educational opportunities for students that are not available through the school district's general budget.  

This is the fourteenth annual mini-grant cycle for the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Since the program’s inception, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation has funded 245 mini-grants totaling $205,174.  Grants have been awarded to every school in the district benefiting approximately 49,534 students.  

The 2017-2018 mini-grant fund was established via the "Add it Up to Opportunity!" Staff and Board fund drive and the "Tradition of Excellence" Community Campaign held during the past 12 months.

For the 2017-2018 school year, 17 grants totaling $18,268 were awarded through the mini-grant process. Grants range from $275 to $2,000.  

6,214 students will benefit from a classroom mini-grant this school year.  

Round One grant winners, grant amounts, and project titles were:

Stacy Booker and Valerie Chmelka, Dodge Elementary, $670, “Coding at Dodge”.  This project will purchase 8 coding robots.  The robots are designed to inspire curiosity, creativity, and invention through connected play and coding.  It will also help include students with disabilities to manipulate and problem solve through coding. The grant will benefit 470 students, grades K-5.

Reneé Ekhoff, Grand Island Senior High, $1,300, “Outdoor Classroom and Field Trips”.  This grant will be used to enhance the learning of students in the GISH Environmental Science class and the Roots N Shoots program.  The grant will be used to update the outdoor classroom with self-sufficient, minimal maintenance watering systems (using rain barrel recycled water), native species identification plates, and introducing native species of flora into the area.  Students who are involved in these two programs will also have the opportunity to attend conservation and wildlife, ecology and environmental studies field trips at Native Prairies with Prairie Plains Resource Institute.  The field trips will include Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center, Gerloff Prairie and Sherman Ranch with guest speakers and hands on experiences. This grant will benefit 60 students in grades 9-12.

Lisa Geist, Walnut Middle School, $1,470, “DNA Is Not Your Destiny! IQ Is Not Fixed! The Power of Working Memory”. One of the biggest deficiencies kids in poverty have is lack of working memory, yet, strengthening working memory is one best ways to increase academic success. You can strengthen working memory by training it for 5-15 minutes a day for 8-12 weeks. This grant will purchase supplies for easy-to-implement activities focused on strengthening memory. This grant benefits 800 students in grades 6-8.

Roger Holsinger, Grand Island Senior High, $1,200, “Senior High Photography Club”. The Photography Club at Grand Island Senior High School is in need of digital cameras. Currently, students in the club must have their own SLR in order to participate. This grant will be used to purchase two (2) Canon digital cameras to be used by students in the club. This grant will benefit 20 students in grades 9-12.

Holly Love, Walnut Middle School, $275, “Legit Legos...Let go of my Legos...What?”.  'Play with legos,' she said, 'It will be fun,' she said....it was! Utilizing Legos, a childhood toy enhances math lessons, creates hands on experiences, and makes students want to learn. In my classes we will use Legos to enhance lessons for area, perimeter, volume, fractions, squares, ratios and so much more. Let the fun begin! This grant will benefit 125 students.

Chandra Myers, Gates Elementary, $465, “Practice Makes Permanent”. This grant will fund a variety of literacy games for students to practice needed skills. The games range from matching games to puzzles. These games will be at differentiated levels to ensure that all students are getting what they need to close learning gaps. The games will be aligned to literacy standards and help reinforce what we are working on in whole group reading. The funding from this grant will benefit 60 students.

Maureen Oman, Lincoln Elementary, $1,250, “GIPS Summer School collaborates with United Way and Little Free Libraries”. GIPS Summer School students will receive a Little Free Library donated by the Heartland United Way.  As part of the Library kick-off and celebration, and to promote summer reading, this grant will gift all summer school children with a book to take home. This grant will benefit 500 students in grades K-5 at Jefferson Elementary, Dodge Elementary, Wasmer Elementary, Knickrehm Elementary, Howard Elementary, Starr Elementary and West Lawn Elementary.  

Denise Pedersen, Kelley Ward and Nate Helzer, Barr Middle School, $2,000, “Barr Live Streaming”. Barr Middle School students learn about video production and will live stream concerts, projects for digital media, HAL projects, and other school events.  This grant will give students skills in presenting their work through digital media, give them a voice in the community, and expand their skills. This grant will benefit 200 students in grades 6-8.

Lynn Plucknett and Jeff Chmelka, Barr Middle School, $1,000, “Transportation for the production of 'A Christmas Carol'”. The grant is to fund the transportation expense for seventh graders at Barr Middle School to attend the live production of 'A Christmas Carol' at Grand Island Senior High.  Students will be given the opportunity to see how stage productions and dialogue in a play come to live on the stage.  Students will analyze and evaluate the impact of print, video, and live production of a piece of literature. This grant will benefit 230 seventh grade students.

Cheryl Russell, Shoemaker Elementary, $660, “Everybody's Drumming!!!” Rap-a-tap-tap, boom, boom, boom! Using drums in the elementary classroom is motivating and exciting! Students reap the benefits of high engagement while gaining knowledge in the musical elements of rhythm, tempo, dynamics, and improvisation.  The joy of playing music is something that should be experienced by everyone, regardless of age, talent-level or experience. This grant will benefit 365 students in grades K-5.

Jason Weseman, Howard Elementary, $750, “Howard Elementary Digital Display Television”. This grant will purchase a flat-screen TV to be mounted in the entryway of Howard Elementary School to increase family and student engagement in school and classroom events. This grant will benefit 350 K-5 students and their families.

Round Two grant winners, grant amounts, and project titles were:

Bailey Aupperlee and Melissa McDonald, Shoemaker Elementary, $2,000, “#ShoeMakerSpace”. The purpose of ShoeMakerSpace is to provide an area for students to design, create, imagine and explore through science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.  All activities will be aligned to literature to enhance connections made through reading.  Teachers, administrators, and specialists will be empowered to utilize this space in order to meet the needs of their students. This grant will benefit 300 students in grades K-5.

Cindy Beaman and Amanda Rood, Barr Middle School, $674. “Transforming Our Geometry Learning With Cool Tools”. By using MIRAs (a transparent geometric tool) and angle-rulers eighth grade students will find it easy to bisect, measure, and draw angles, and explore transformational geometry. Students will quickly see concepts of symmetry and congruence as well as reflections, rotations, slides, and flips. This grant will benefit 694 students in grades 6-8.

Chandra Kosmicki, Jefferson Elementary, $1,995, “Robotic Coding with Ozobots, Dot, and Dash”. Ozobots and Dot-Dash are robots that teach students computer programming, problem-solving, and collaboration.  This project will provide students opportunities within the media skills classroom, as well as in before-school and lunch bunch clubs, to engage in coding and STEM activities. This grant benefited 600 students in grades K-5.

Chelsey Liess, Walnut Middle School, $1,360, “Monitoring and Goal Setting in PE”. Students in PE will get a chance to track and monitor their own effort and exertion with the help of uploadable pedometers.  Pedometers will not only record steps taken, but will also track activity time during a lesson and engagement in moderate to vigorous physical activity.  Students will be able to set goals based on their pedometer readings. This grant will benefit 750 students in grades 6-8.

Abra Misselt and Jen Leitschuck, Starr Elementary, $500, “Starr Elementary School Sensory Room”. This project will provide a variety of equipment and supplies to create a sensory room at Starr Elementary. A sensory room is a safe place where students can go to calm down, release energy, and meet their sensory needs so that they can return to the classroom focused and ready to learn. This grant will benefit 20 students in grades K-5.

Laurie Peterson, Walnut Middle School, $699, “Wildcat Custom Designs”. This grant will fund the purchase of an embroidery machine for use at a before school club that focuses on customized embroidery designs and monogramming.  Students in the club will learn how to set up a unique custom embroidery design to be stitched onto clothing and other textile products. The club can then offer this service to staff and students at Walnut. The Embroidery Machine will also be used by Family and Consumer Sciences Students throughout the school year. This grant will benefit 600 students in grades 6-8.