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Education Foundation awards $17.5K in Impact Grants

Photo of students posing at Dean Street School

After a pause due to the uncertainty of education delivery during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Woodstock District 200 Education Foundation was able to resume awarding Impact Grants to District staff this school year.

Approximately $17,500 for more than 30 staff-submitted proposals was awarded this school year. The money will fund assemblies, art supplies, summer orchestra camp opportunities, educational games and many other things that traditionally don’t fit into a school district budget.

“The foundation is motivated by the thought of helping the teachers provide a memorable creative learning experience they might not otherwise be able to achieve,” said Jaci Krandel, co-president of the D 200 Education Foundation.

The education foundation board is composed of volunteers from around the community including District 200 parents, former parents, former staff members and other community leaders. The Foundation has awarded more than $600,000 in Impact Grants since its inception in 1993. Anyone who is  interested in joining the board should email

The group’s biggest fundraiser is the annual Groundhog Day Dinner, which wasn’t held last year because of COVID-19. The board will host a virtual auction event next year on Feb. 5.

One of the projects to receive an Impact Grant this year is the Dean Street Elementary School Kindness Garden. Rocio Cleveland, a Dean associate, said she was particularly moved because her late father helped her design the project before he died over the summer.

“Students will learn and master some of the many cultivating sustainable, eco-friendly agricultural engineering, and techniques like soil preparation, sowing, transplanting, crop rotation and polycultures … ,” Cleveland said. 

She said students will also paint kind and motivational statements on rocks in the garden that she hopes will be an inspirational place for students. “This kindness garden will fill many hearts with joy especially during a pandemic when many children and staff are struggling with anxiety and depression.”

Alyssa Niemic, a special education teacher at Creekside Middle School, was a recipient of a foundation Impact Grant this year in the amount of $750. Niemic said she’ll use the funds to participate in community trips around Woodstock including grocery stores, bowling alleys, and restaurants.

“While participating in the community trips, the students will be able to develop skills in the areas of community safety, social skills, making purchases, and budgeting.  We are very grateful to the foundation for choosing to fund this project. Our students will be very excited to be able to attend all of the community trips,” Niemic said.

Jason Penuel, science teacher at Woodstock North High School, was awarded a $1,500 Impact Grant for probes, which Penuel said uses cutting-edge data technology used by environmental scientists.

“Students will collect real-time data on things such as dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, nitrates, phosphates, and pH. We in the science department are extremely thankful to be part of such a powerful and supportive district and foundation,” he said.

Krandel said the foundation was thrilled about resuming the Impact Grants this year and furthering its mission.

“We are excited at the prospect of offering learning enrichment opportunities for the students and teachers here in Woodstock.  We are grateful for the community support of these efforts,” she said.