A visit from a real children’s author. Touchscreen math programs for students with special needs. A school performance by a famous orchestra group.
Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 teachers are never short on great ideas to create unique learning opportunities for students, but funds to pay for these projects, programs and equipment are finite.
That’s where the D200 Education Foundation comes in, as they have for a quarter century, funding learning experiences that wouldn’t be covered by a traditional school district budget.
On Wednesday, Sept. 26, the Foundation presented $37,492 in Impact Grants to District 200 educators who submitted applications for their chosen ideas.
“This year we received 134 grant applications. That’s more than we’ve ever received before,” said Foundation Chairman Billie Cornell.
The Foundation selection committee, comprised of Board Members Martha Hansen, Bridget Belcastro, Mark Heckmon and Al Wilson chose 72 of the projects, which received either full or partial funding.
The Education Foundation mainly relies on funds collected at the annual Groundhog Day Dinner and Auction held each February to fund the grants ranging from less than $200 to $2,500. The 2019 event will be held on Feb. 9 at Woodstock Harley-Davidson.
Teachers Deb Fuller, Katie Wagner, Nancy Menge and Principal Keri Pala were recipients of similar Impact Grants last year to create rock gardens at Westwood and Mary Endres Elementary based on the children’s book “Only One You.” Students painted their own rocks, which they set into the display.
Greenwood Elementary School special education teacher Allison Neff received a $600 grant last year to buy accessible musical instruments for students with significant disabilities and saw big changes in their ability and desire to communicate.
“It turned into social skills, taking turns,” Neff said during Wednesday’s presentation. “Not only are we teaching vocabulary and how to access instruments, a nice byproduct was that they were completely increasing their language skills, which we really hadn’t seen from other activities.”
This year’s funds went to projects from buying sensory tools for preschoolers or a motivational speaker at Dean Street Elementary to materials for STEM bins at Mary Endres Elementary and supplies for the Best Buddies program at Creekside Middle School, which pairs students with other students who have disabilities, and many others. All 12 District schools received Impact Grants.
Two $2,500 grants were also awarded in honor of the Foundation’s 25th anniversary to Prairiewood and Westwood Elementary Schools to pay for Gaga ball pits, a wildly popular playground game.