On Monday morning, Education Foundation staff and donors surprised 80 new teachers with $200 First Time Teacher Grants during orientation at Jefferson High School. Educators from more than 30 schools in the Sioux Falls School District will receive funds to purchase supplies for their classrooms.
First-time teachers often buy materials using their own funds because they are not typically covered by school budgets. Educators have used grant dollars to purchase posters, art supplies, sets of books, bulletin board materials, organization kits, games, puzzles, posters, dry erase markers, extra school supplies, snacks for students, and more. The Education Foundation provides $100 for each teacher, and the Mary Chilton DAR Foundation matches $100. This partnership has existed since 2017.
“First Time Teacher Grants are a fantastic way for the Education Foundation to welcome new staff to the Sioux Falls School District. We are investing $16,000 in this program because we appreciate teachers, and we want them to be successful in their first classroom,” said Allison Struck, executive director of the Education Foundation. “Educators know where they need to supplement or what they’re missing, and these grants empower the teachers to make those decisions. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach because a kindergarten teacher will need different supplies than a high school biology instructor.”
Grant recipients complete a short application that includes how they plan to spend the funds, and here are a few responses:
“I expect to buy manipulatives for students to use in the mornings. I like the idea of using ‘soft starts’ to begin the students’ days. The manipulative the students can choose from might include Magna tiles, Legos, blocks, brain flakes, bristle blocks, tangrams, and play dough.”
“I hope to use the materials to build a classroom library. My goal is to have a variety of books that foster my students’ love for reading. I hope to also create a welcoming library that draws the students to it.”
“I am looking forward to purchasing books, posters, seat sacks, and some puzzles or games for indoor recess time!”
“My plan for the money is to purchase some basic materials for the classroom, some composition notebooks, some dry erase markers, extra pencils, and a stackable letter tray for students to turn in their work. The other thing that I am hoping to purchase is a large world map and some pins; I want to have a board in the room that has a “look how far you’ve come, and how far you will go.” Any extra I will use to buy supplemental lighting as we have no exterior windows in my room, and I want to make it feel more comfortable for the students.”
Since the Education Foundation started the First Time Teacher Grant Program in 2011, the organization has awarded grants to 977 teachers.