LPEF called “a lifeline” for educators in La Crosse schools

In new podcasts, teachers say LPEF’s “sole mission is to make school better for kids”

Leading teachers in the School District of La Crosse are sharing their thoughts about the La Crosse Public Education Foundation in a new series of podcasts.

The Gold Star Educators podcast series gives listeners an opportunity to hear first-hand from teachers on the front lines about how LPEF is strengthening the community, one student at a time.

You can listen to these podcasts by following the links on our Podcast page, by linking from the educator’s name below, or search for them where you find other podcasts in iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. Simply search for “LPEF” and you should find the Gold Star Educators series produced by Bob Schmidt’s Podcasts for Hire.

“The La Crosse Public Education Foundation has been just a lifeline for us educators in the School District of La Crosse,” says Steve Johnston, an engineering teacher at Logan High School.

Tim Sprain helps a student adjust Virtual Reality headset purchased through an LPEF grant.

Adds Tim Sprain, a science teacher at Lincoln Middle School: “It’s something that if there is ever an idea that we have, we can go to (LPEF) and they’ll be like, ‘Yes.’ … The La Crosse Public Education Foundation is what makes La Crosse a wonderful place to live and send your kids to public school.”

Amanda Wolfgram, music teacher at North Woods International, says LPEF helps address student needs through the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) program. RAK empowers teachers “to know what are the greatest needs of your kids – for that family, for that kid, what do they need and how can we meet it. Realistically, if those basic needs are not met, then how are they going to learn?”

PaHoua Vang helps a student with a puzzle to learn counting from 1 to 10.

PaHoua Vang, preschool teacher at Hintgen Elementary, says: “Without the La Crosse Public Education Foundation, we wouldn’t be able to input all of these amazing activities, and amazing gardens and presenters and incorporate all of this into our school. Without (LPEF), we would really struggle with all the successful things we are doing in class.”

Tracy Taylor-Johnson, a third-grade teacher at Summit Environmental School, says LPEF “has always supported things that I think are important for me in my classroom … and just have had such an impact on the kids.” She adds: “I do love what I’m doing and I do feel very fortunate that I have written grants that … (LPEF) has been able to grant, and that I can go and make a difference.”

Tracy Taylor-Johnson works with third-graders at Summit Environmental School.

Rick Blasing, a counselor at Lincoln Middle School, says LPEF is “inspiring, it’s encouraging educators … providing the creative fuel for all of the extraordinary possibilities of what the teacher could do with that funding.”

Jeanne Halderson, a seventh-grade teacher at Longfellow Middle School, says: “What I love about (LPEF) is their sole mission is to make school better for kids in La Crosse.” In addition to receiving grants, she and others use RAK funding to address the “hidden secret” of students with needs for food and basics, including underwear, socks and undergarments for girls. “It’s something most people just assume, ‘Hey, everybody has underwear,’ but they don’t. I don’t know what we’d do without Random Acts of Kindness.”

Carrie Wuensch-Harden, library- HPL teacher at Hamilton/SOTA I Elementary School, is proud of the many grants she has received, for everything from Osmo systems in the library to washable bowls and cups for students to use in the cafeteria. She says LPEF “has done a fantastic job supporting our school. You need to know that because of that, I’ve really been able to change how I teach.”