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Ukuleles and robots on Great Bend teacher wish lists
Education Foundation awards 33 minigrants
new slt education-minigrants
Paige Stegman, Jefferson School music teacher, receives one of the larger USD 428 Education Foundation minigrants from Superintendent Brad Reed and Principal Art Baker. Reed and Baker sit on the Foundation board. Stegman will use the funds to purchase ukuleles for her students. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of stories about minigrants awarded to teachers by the USD Education Foundation.

Robots that teach coding, balance balls as an alternative for classroom seating and ukuleles for an entire classroom were some of the things teachers hoped to purchase for innovative ideas in Great Bend classrooms. These and 30 other projects were recently approved for mini-grants from the Great Bend USD 428 Education Foundation.
There was even a grant for a project to help teach parents about what is going on in the schools.
The Education Foundation recently approved 33 different projects totaling more than $24,000, making at least 38 teachers and hundreds of students happy by funding the 2016-17 minigrants.
“The Education Foundation Board feels privileged to support and enhance the good work of teachers in the district with minigrants for innovative teaching ideas that are not in the district budget,” said Paul Snapp, board president. “Once again, the foundation board is pleased to receive excellent requests from district teachers for worthwhile enhancements to their curriculum,” he said.
“The board is grateful for the community support of our fundraising efforts that result in the foundation’s ability to fund these important enhancements,” Snapp said. “The most rewarding part of serving on the foundation board is funding minigrants for innovative ideas from our teachers.”

Here are a few of the projects:
Coding in the Classroom — The K-6 students at Eisenhower School will be introduced to the world of coding. Blythe Murphy was awarded the $498 grant so that students can learn to utilize both cross-curricular knowledge and problem-solving skills to manipulate robots to perform functions. With multiple robots, students can work collaboratively, explore and celebrate ways to solve the same problem.

Infiniteach — Infiniteach is an Autism Core Skill iPad app that provides targeted curriculum for students with various special needs. The program, which benefits students from Pre-K through life, teaches academics, social play and functional skills through games and apps. Applicant Jessica Nelson at Eisenhower said the $200 grant will enable purchasing accounts.

Using Technology with Instruction — Eisenhower teacher Catrina McGurk will receive a $256 grant to get a year-long subscription to Brain POP and Flocabulary for the school’s third-grade students. Brain POP has hundreds of standard-aligned animated movies, quizzes, games, high-interest readings and activities that span science, social studies, English, math, engineering, technology, health, arts and music. Flocabulary has engaging, standardaligned hip-hop songs, videos and lessons for all subjects.

Alternative Seating — A $354 grant to Katherine Hughes will provide Eisenhower’s fourth-grade students with seating that is alternate to their standard chairs. Twenty stability balls and an air pump would be purchased to help bring focus to learning. Stability ball usage would offer mild exercise, improved balance, healthier body posture and spinal alignment and healthy blood flow to students.

Math, ELA and Technology Night — Eisenhower staff members will hold data information sessions for parents and students for their better understanding of the AimsWeb data, MTSS and other processes, thereby helping to bridge the gap between home and school. Grant funds will be spent for take-home materials to promote educational family time, for snacks at sessions and for compensation allowance to three instructional coaches for four evening presentations. Laurie Harwood, Blythe Murphy and Jenni Wittig made the $852 grant application.

Class Games for Kindergarten — Pam Jordan at Jefferson will receive $500 to purchase various sets of learning games to use during kindergarten students’ intervention sessions. The supervising staff member could monitor a productive, education-focused session for multiple students through group-wide use of learning games aligned with objectives.

Classroom Set of Ukuleles — The grant for $1,394 will provide Paige Stegman’s students at Jefferson with opportunities, knowledge and skills needed to accompany themselves with an instrument. They will play basic scales and chords and will select and perform a song. Using the ukuleles in the classroom could encourage students to subsequently learn to play other string instruments.