LPEF grants support virtual and blended learning as pandemic impacts La Crosse schools

Wireless headsets and other technology to help teachers and students hear each other more clearly when using computers or tablets, plus other projects to support virtual education, are among grants totaling $23,369 announced Dec. 3 by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation (LPEF).

The latest group of 10 grants also include books and classroom materials, and brings the total LPEF grants so far this school year to $49,796 for 21 projects. Educators have one more opportunity at the end of February to seek funding for innovative projects to enhance the education for students in La Crosse public schools.

“Teachers in La Crosse schools are doing amazing work to keep students learning during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rochelle Nicks, LPEF Board President and Director of Mission Advancement for the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. “We are grateful for the strong support of our donors, allowing us to maintain grant funding this year despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.””

Logan High’s Kate Keeney received a grant to buy books as part of a plan to deliver books and blankets to students whose reading skills are below grade level.

Grants are selected for funding based on creativity, ability to engage students, and the total impact or reach of the project. Here is a brief summary of the 10 grants:

  • $11,611 to provide funding for instructional technology, such as wireless microphone headsets, in each middle school and high school, to assist teachers and students in hearing each other whether students are learning virtually, or whether in a blended environment where some students are in the classroom and others are attending virtually. Recipients: Xeng Lee, Lila Planavsky and Jill Emerich, representing all middle schools and high schools. This grant is underwritten in part by Festival Foods.
  • Tim Sprain, upper left, receives his grant for virtual field trips.

    $4,260 to support virtual field experiences for students and teachers in La Crosse middle schools, replacing traditional field trips that are on hold due to the pandemic. The focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) includes working with the Upham Woods Research Accelerators program of UW-Extension, plus purchase of needed technology for remote experiences. Recipient: Tim Sprain. This grant is underwritten in part by Fowler & Hammer.

  • $2,145 to provides virtual sessions for Spanish immersion students at Logan High School, allowing them to engage with native speaking coaches from Spain, Cuba, Argentina, Guatemala and other Spanish speaking countries. Students will be able to practice speaking skills while increasing cultural competency. Recipients: Carrie Markos, Cassie Tolvstad, Rhonda McGowan and Katie Beyer. This grant is underwritten in part by Trust Point.
  • $1,500 to buy books for 3rd-5th grade classrooms at Hamilton Elementary School, with an emphasis on books on subjects of high interest to students that will help those reading below grade level who need phonics and fluency help. Recipients: Jourdan Stacey and Mindy Court. This grant is underwritten in part by Mooresmiles.
  • $1,450 to buy lightweight, durable mats for 150 students in Coulee Montessori classrooms at Northside Elementary, allowing each student to have an independent work space befitting the Montessori style of doing “big works” on the floor. Recipient: Sara Jorgensen. This grant is underwritten in part by Altra Federal Credit Union.
  • $735 to support an innovative Principal’s Book Club at Hamilton Elementary School using the book “All Because You Matter” by Tami Charles. The book deals with pride and self-esteem, mothers and fathers, and love. The book has been described as: “A beautiful love letter to Black and brown children with a nurturing message to be appreciated by all.” Each classroom gets a book to read aloud, and then students will write about what makes them special, with their essays compiled into a book that will be published for each class. Recipient: Carrie Wuensch-Harden. This grant is underwritten by Gundersen Health System.
  • $700 to buy mesh bags and picture books for families at Southern Bluffs Elementary School to request and take home to help students dealing with tough topics, such as divorce, grief and loss, diversity and equity, gender identity, and more. Recipient: Becky Lueck. This grant is underwritten by Mayo Clinic Health System.
  • $500 to buy books to integrate reading and writing into the study of mathematics for K-2 students at Hamilton Elementary School. Recipient: Jenn Speckeen. This grant is underwritten by Coulee Bank.
  • $250 to purchase books that will be packaged with blankets and hot cocoa mix for gifts to students in a Logan High School class focusing on teens with reading skills below grade level. The goal is to promote the joy of reading. Recipient: Kate Keeney. This grant is awarded in honor of Lyn Halvorson, who retired in June as School Nutrition Supervisor after 23 years with the District.
  • $219 to provide busing for upper-level Spanish students at Logan High School to spend a day engaged with college-level Spanish classes at UW-La Crosse. Recipients: Rhonda McGowan, Katie Beyer and Carrie Markos. This grant is awarded in honor of Sandra Brauer, who retired in June after 21 years with the District, including serving as principal at North Woods International School and supervisor of District social studies and world languages curriculum.

In addition to Gold Star Grants, LPEF provides other support for La Crosse schools, including about $30,000 for Random Acts of Kindness to meet needs of students in areas such as nutrition, hygiene, clothing, and transportation. LPEF’s mission is to enhance learning opportunities for students in the School District of La Crosse and to promote support for public education. For more information, contact LPEF at 787-0226, or email David Stoeffler at: david@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org.