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Education Foundation Awards Record Number of Public School Proud Grants

During the 2020-2021 school year, the Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation awarded 44 Public School Proud Grants, a record for the organization. In total, the Education Foundation distributed $108,000 to 67 educators in the district. Students in 35 schools will use the grant-funded materials during the 2021-2022 school year. Below is a list of Public School Proud Grant winners, their schools, and a description of their projects:

• Crisse Meisenhelder from Oscar Howe Elementary received $948.57 for “Phonemic and Phonics Fun in Kindergarten.” She will purchase twist and turn letter builders, magnetic tiles and blocks, rhyming sound puzzles, alphabet beads, and phonics games.

• Jessica Goede from Oscar Howe Elementary received $1,049.40 for “My Kindergartners Need Diverse Books: Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors.” She will purchase 71 picture books that depict people typically underrepresented in classroom libraries. The characters represented in this collection are mostly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. The goal is to have a more diverse, equitable, and representative classroom.

• Kristy Dillon from Oscar Howe Elementary and Naomi Blank from Anne Sullivan Elementary received $2,500 for “Are You Game?” The teachers will purchase board games, and they will use them with K-5 English language learners. In addition to language acquisition, this concept will teach social skills, critical thinking, following directions, teamwork, and creativity.

• Kim Kappenman, counselor at JFK Elementary, received $1,525.17 for her submission, “Calming Kits.” Kim will use the funds to purchase stress balls, fidgets, liquid motion bubblers, pinwheels, puzzle speed cube balls, and other social emotional learning materials that will help students with self-regulation. A calming kit in each classroom will allow immediate interventions to promote positive behaviors.

• Maggie Moeller, art teacher at JFK Elementary and Horace Mann Elementary, received $1,017.51 for “Art in the Specialized Classroom.” She will purchase rubber plates and brushes, design rollers, and mold and play sensory sand kits. Research has shown that students with significant disabilities learn best through a multisensory approach, and these materials will ensure their success in the art room.

• Denise Seymour from Horace Mann Elementary received $1,000 for her submission, “Playaway and Print.” The funds will be used to purchase Playaway all-in-one audio books. Students can check out a Playaway and the print copy of the book and read along with the audio recording.

• The staff at Jane Addams Elementary received $2,560.75 for “Outdoor Classroom.” They will purchase raised garden beds, weather tools, bird houses, and yoga mats. Students from All City and the Elementary Immersion Center will experiment with solids, liquids, and gases, and they will record and analyze data in real time.

• Marci Cabrera from Jane Addams Elementary received $582.45 for “Gelli Plate Printmaking.” She will purchase gelli plates and brayers. With the gelli plates, students will be immersed in the creative process, and they will use a variety of stencils, brayers, texture plates, and other tools.

• Kayleen Lundquist from All City Elementary received $4,650 for “DrumFIT®.” She will purchase the cardio drumming program that combines the mental health benefits of drumming with the overall health advantages of physical fitness for a full body workout. DrumFIT® helps students with fine motor skills, spatial awareness, reflexes, cognitive association, hand-eye coordination, and cross lateral movement.

• Eliza Leloux from All City Elementary received $6,400 for “Virtual and Augmented Reality Learning Fun.” She will purchase 16 virtual reality headsets that will give students the opportunity to travel the world, explore artifacts, find shapes in structures, exercise through movement in a virtual world, broaden students’ reading skills, and provide exposure to foreign languages.

• Shar Schutte, counselor at Laura B. Anderson Elementary, received $227.85 for “Skills for Life.” Shar will use funds to purchase Boys Town materials that will help integrate the skills of reading social cues, listening, following directions, learning to accept boundaries, problem solving and resolving conflicts.

• Beth Versteeg from Eugene Field A+ Elementary received $300 for “Marvelous Makedo.” She will use the funds to purchase two Makedo kits. Makedo is a simple-to-use, open-ended system of tools for creative cardboard construction. Students will be able to build imaginative and useful innovations from recycled cardboard.

• Sara Southwood from Rosa Parks Elementary received $2,582.11 for her grant, “MaKey MaKey—Connecting the Whole Student to Music Through Coding.” MaKey MaKey is an engineering invention kit that turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the Internet. Students will use MaKey MaKeys to create an interactive musical instrument. With the help of the visual arts instructor, students will create a piece of artwork and then compose music to accompany their art. More than 700 students will benefit from this grant.

• Heidi Reynolds from Pettigrew Elementary received $6,250 for “Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life.” She will use the funds to introduce Pettigrew students and staff to the 7 Mindsets Program. The principles outlined in the curriculum include: Everything Is Possible, Passion First, We Are Connected, 100% Accountable, Attitude of Gratitude, Live to Give, and The Time Is Now. Teachers believe the skills taught through this program will positively impact attendance rates, decrease office referrals, and increase grave level mastery of content.

• Sarah Greer from Pettigrew Elementary received $970.04 for “Lighting the Way for Learning.” She will use funds to purchase a light table and manipulatives for her students. The light table will provide hands-on learning such as fine motor development, pre-writing and reading skills, and hand-eye coordination.

• Melissa Pitz, Tara Hansen-Leinen, Christine Garr, Molly Rost, Dee Crichton, and Haley Beckstrand from Rosa Parks Elementary and Harvey Dunn Elementary received $877.80 for their project, “Letter Recognition and Letter Formation for Early Learners.” This grant will provide a nationally recognized iPad app, “Wet-Dry-Try” to address letter recognition and letter formation for kindergarten students. Handwriting programs ensure the student is using correct letter formation and provides immediate visual and auditory cues and feedback.

• Rhonda Wilson from Harvey Dunn Elementary received $179.94 for her grant, “Light Our Way to Learning.” Rhonda will use funds to purchase a color mixing block set, stackable translucent buttons, and Picasso magna tiles for the light table in her classroom. Students use the light table and manipulatives for literacy, math, science, and writing.

• Jane Fosheim from Terry Redlin Elementary received $486.67 for her application, “Cultural Awareness.” She will use funds to purchase culturally appropriate puzzles, foods for creative play, books, and musical instruments from around the world for her preschool students.

• Stef Hage from John Harris Elementary received $3,890 to purchase STEAM kits for all 650 students. These tools give children opportunities to build, create, and explore in a collaborative environment. Students will be able to construct bridges, houses and buildings, make hands-on connections to fairy tales, complete circuits and more.

• Shannon Hohwieler from John Harris Elementary received $3,500 for her grant, “Kindergarten Caring and Collaboration.” Shannon will use the funds to purchase STEAM bins, math bundles, and social emotional connection books for all 125 kindergarten students. Research has found that engineering and math concepts, along with advanced science concepts, can be successfully incorporated in the elementary curriculum to help increase interest in STEAM career fields and develop important skills such as critical thinking.

• Poornima D’Souza and Crystal Arntz from Hawthorne Elementary will use $1,520 for their project, “UBUNTU/Circle of Courage 4 Success.” The Circle of Courage (COC) philosophy offers students the opportunity to become well-rounded learners and carry the philosophy into their lives outside of the classroom. Students at Hawthorne and adults in Parent University will read books relating to the topics of belonging, generosity, independence, and mastery.

• Jacee Johnson from Discovery Elementary received $1,705 for her submission, “Emotional Regulation: Using Heart Rate Monitors to Help Students Learn Self-Regulation and Healthy Coping Skills.” This project will allow K-5 students to learn more about and to practice self-regulation through the IHT Heart Rate Monitor Program. Using IHT watches, activities such as taking deep breaths, meditation, exercise, grounding techniques, interaction with peers, and playing games will allow students to see in real-time how their heart rate is an indicator of being regulated or dysregulated.

• Justin Stanford from Discovery Elementary received $6,249.25 for his submission, “Smithsonian Science for the Classroom.” Justin will use funds to purchase STEM module kits for life science, earth science, physical science, and engineering design to supplement current district science resources. The Smithsonian Science for the Classroom program is a fully integrated STEM curriculum developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It is designed to engage students in phenomenon-based learning and connect students firsthand to the world around them. 

• The gifted education teachers, including Jeff Dixen, Todd Schumacher, Denyce Buettner, Katie Ristau, Becky Eeten, Jessica Hubert, and Christine Griebel, received $4,210.25 for their grant, “Turing Tumble.” Gifted ed students at every elementary school will use Turing Tumble to explore the mechanics behind building a computer that is powered by marbles. Students will use ramps, crossovers, bits, interceptors, gears, and gear bits to build computers that generate patterns, count, add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

• Kellie Spenst at Memorial Middle School received $562.96 for “Break Out!” She will purchase Breakout EDU kits that will give students a brain break while also fostering critical thinking skills and encouraging teamwork. Breakout EDU kits are a  mix of STEM, gaming, and problem-solving, all wrapped up like an educational escape room.

• Wendy Nelson from Patrick Henry Middle School received $2,070.08 for her proposal, “Large Print for Inclusion.” Wendy will purchase 100 large print books for the library. Adding large print will give visually impaired students, many of whom are in the RISE Program, the ability to read the same books as their peers. Adding these books will create an inclusive environment for all students.

• Mariah Lockard from Patrick Henry Middle School received $714 for her grant, “Art Therapy for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities.” She will purchase art supplies for students in the positive student interactions (PSI) program whose diagnosed emotional or behavioral disabilities affect their academic and social success. Funds will be used for art therapy supplies in guided and choice art projects, including writing mantras on beads and rocks, developing a vision board, weaving, zentangles, sculptures, sand art, creating cards for others, and the use of collages to explore emotions, thoughts, and future plans

• Sherri Wolles from George McGovern Middle School received $2,649.41 for her grant, “Anywhere Reading Access for All.” She will use funds to purchase eBooks and audiobooks through the SORA app. Her selection will be titles that encompass social emotional learning; promote the importance of learning about empathy, anti-racism, and social justice; and offer varying reading levels for all students.

• Amy Heinert from Ben Reifel Middle School received $3,746 for “Padcasting Studio.” Amy will purchase one Padcaster starter kit, one padcaster studio, and two iPads. The padcaster studio will be used to create digital content for morning announcements, flipped learning (recording digital versions of lessons), digital storytelling, student newscasts, and staff messages.

• Lori Pokela from Whittier Middle School received $1,459.06 for her grant, “Watch Them Light Up!” This project will involve English language learners simultaneously reading the text, The City of Ember, while also exploring the basic principles of circuitry. Throughout the unit, students will use SNAP circuit kits to explore the basic vocabulary and fundamentals of circuitry. These guided lessons will provide foundational information but will leave much of the learning to self-guided exploration and conclusion. Students will create a presentation to demonstrate mastery of key circuitry concepts with connections to The City of Ember text.

• Kim Bogart from Whittier Middle School received $1,697 for her proposal, “Electric Quartet: Exploring and Creating String Music in the 21st Century.” This project will create an electric string quartet at Whittier. The first objective is to provide a performance opportunity for the students to experiment and explore the possibilities of their instruments in acoustic and electric format. The second objective is to provide students with the opportunity to collaborate, compose, and create using the unique sound effects and layering tools provided by a session mixer. The third objective is to offer another fun and exciting way to engage students in string orchestra. This is an “out of the box” opportunity that will generate excitement for students because they will better understand how string instruments function and can be used in the modern world.

• Anna Hakeman and Jesse Miller from Whittier Middle School have been awarded the largest grant ($9,931.48) for their proposal, “Galactic Mallet Space Stations.” They will purchase four Pearl Malletstation controllers and the accompanying software.  In addition to aiding in the development of strong mallet players, Malletstations give directors and students the flexibility to use correct instrument sounds in modern band literature without the need to purchase uncommon and costly instruments. This grant will impact more 400 fifth through eighth grade students each year. 

• Desiree Burggraaf from Ben Reifel Middle School, Sarah Henrichs from George McGovern Middle School, Carol Beldin from IPC, and Jane Eckstaine from Lincoln High School received $6,029.55 for “Sowing Seeds of Science.” They will purchase aero gardens and seed pot kits for every middle and high school. Students will learn about photosynthesis, climate, food production, and sustainability.

• Jalen Snaza from Axtell Park received $1,066.97 for “Virtual Interactive History Lessons.” Jalen will purchase iPod touches and goggles so that students can experience history virtually, whether they are visiting the Holocaust Museum, exploring World War I battle sites in Europe, or touring Gettysburg. Because many students are visual learners, this option will keep students engaged and give them a new avenue for exploring social studies, history, and government.

• Sarah Vining and Brianna Copley from Axtell Park received $1,069.95 for their proposal, “The Power Source Curriculum,” an emotional literacy program for at-risk youth. The curriculum utilizes a book that students can read at their own pace, augmented with a workbook. This manual is self-reflective, guiding students through processing different aspects of their lives and helping them dig deeper into their thoughts, emotions, actions, and belief systems. 

• Garrett Gronlund, Justin Marsh, Julie Brandt, and Dan Miller from Summit Oaks received $3,697.99 for “Multidisciplinary Virtual Engagement Project.” Using virtual reality headsets, students will have an opportunity to interact with the world through virtual experiences. Goals include increasing core content knowledge in science, social studies, humanities, and literature, higher student achievement and educational outcomes of at-risk students, and improved in-depth knowledge of course materials.

• Mary Alexander and Jane Eckstaine from Lincoln High School received $2,800 for their proposal, “Smoothies on the RISE.” RISE students will create 3-4 signature smoothies. This opportunity will give students the necessary job skills to transition to competitive employment. They will learn the responsibility of showing up to work on time, clocking in and out, counting money, creating order forms, sorting ingredients, and cleaning.

• Skyler Kidd at Roosevelt High School received $665 for “Studio Lighting Kit with Lens.” More than 200 students in Photo 1 and 2 will use materials that include softbox lighting, strobe lighting, three multi-colored backdrops, reflectors, CTO Gels, and camera triggers. The new studio will give all students a chance to experience cinematic lighting and industry-quality photography.

• Lisa Dresch at Roosevelt High School received $249 for “Value-able Drawing Tool.” She will purchase Value Finders for all of her students. The artist can hold the Value Finder next to the area of their subject and then be able to match the value to add to their drawing. This tool is a hands-on, immediate help to solving the challenge of rendering values while using graphite, charcoal, and other media.

• Nathan Alfson from Washington High School received $3,342.54 for his grant, “Warrior Printing Project.” With these funds, students will use a printing press machine to create products like t-shirts, hoodies, and other branded materials. Students in the RISE vocational skills class will receive hands-on experience by taking orders, creating the product with the machines, storing materials properly, and assisting with the delivery of items.

• Meghan Wounded Head from Washington High School received $319.84 for her submission, “Protect the iPads.” Meghan will use funds to purchase protectors for the 16 iPads she received through a Public School Proud Grant two years ago. The iPad covers will allow students additional use and ease of movement around the classroom and building while completing the assignments. The simplicity of a case will let students focus on the activity or assessment at hand—not whether they will drop the iPad.

• Anna Stambach from Washington High School received $5,100 for “RISE Up with Vocational Skills.” Anna will purchase vocational skills tool kits and accessories in order to provide quality and practical hands-on experiences to RISE students. These tasks will add strengths to their transition areas, enhance their fine motor skills, and further develop their logical thinking and problem solving skills.

• Valerie VanHeuveln from Washington High School received $4,595.49 for “Cyber:bots: Ready for Competition.” She will purchase 12 sets of Parallax cyber:bots and coding software. Students will program the robots to move, perform tasks, and navigate various obstacles. Through these activities, students will gain skills in trouble-shooting and critical thinking and learn that teamwork is paramount to problem-solving.

• Brad Brockmueller from CTE Academy is receiving $1,000 for his application, “Home and Small Business Security with PoE (Power over Ethernet) Cameras.” Students in the Computer Hardware course will apply the current wiring lessons to unique requirements for PoE cameras.  The curriculum also requires the ability to add devices to a pre-existing network such as a home or business. Students in the Networking Technologies course will be required to configure individual cameras for installation in small businesses.  They will also program network servers to store video and share from a remote location. Students in the Cybersecurity course will learn about the benefits camera systems provide as well as discuss the ethics of this equipment.