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Foundation awards more than $25,000 to teachers

Daily Inter Lake | November 24, 2022 12:00 AM

Kalispell Education Foundation awarded $25,009 in Great Opportunities grants to help educators fund projects to engage and inspire students in Kalispell Public Schools.

The grants will fund 18 projects that are estimated to serve roughly 2,640 students across the district.

Every fall, educators are encouraged to apply for up to $2,000 in funding to support projects that are innovative, encourage collaboration and promote academic excellence, according to the foundation. This year, educators also had the opportunity to apply for mini-grants in amounts up to $300. The new mini-grant program was established to support smaller projects, according to Kalispell Education Foundation Executive Director Dorothy Drury, based on feedback from a teacher survey.

“One consistent request was for more classroom support. Since we already provide the Great Opportunity Grants, we decided to dig a little deeper, and found that many teachers had smaller requests, but felt their ideas were not important enough or that the big grant application was just too much for the amount of funding they needed,” Drury said, noting that the foundation learned the average teacher was spending between $300 to $400 on their classroom each year in a follow-up survey.

Mini-grants will be awarded twice a year. Applicants will only be eligible to receive funding once a year. The foundation expects to begin accepting the second round of applications in January.

Following is a list of grant applicants, projects and grant amounts/sponsorships.

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Edgerton Elementary School

Applicant: Alexis Gilbert

Project: “Chair Pockets for Student Centered Learning” allows third-graders to quickly access materials and choose where to sit or stand in an effort to minimize transition time.

Grant amount: $509.70, sponsored by Glacier Bank

Applicants: Kathryn Streit, Amber Carpenter and Gabe Buzzell

Project: “Busy Bodies and Engaged Minds” funding will go toward purchasing wobble stools as an alternative to traditional chairs for fifth-graders to “get their wiggles out” while remaining engaged in classroom learning.

Grant amount: $1,259.82

Applicant: Sean Kelly

Project: “The Bulldog Beat 1 and 2” involves purchasing filming equipment for fifth-graders to create weekly videos that are shown to the student body.

Grant amount: $1,997

Applicants: Jessica Hensley, Lauren Lenzner, Lexi Gilbert and Desi Palmer

Project: “Makers Monday — Soft Start to Learning” aims to help third-graders have a successful start to the week by setting aside time for them to direct their learning and choose a “making” activity — art, observations (science), creations (Legos, K’nex), molds (Play-Doh, kinetic sand), connections (teacher station/social, emotional learning)

Grant amount: $1,481.10, sponsored by Whitefish Credit Union

Elrod Elementary

Applicant: Ari Hess-Headlee

Project: “Let’s Yoto this Library” funding will be used to purchase screenless kid-friendly audio players for students to listen to audiobooks and create stories using physical cards. The players also have the ability to play music, activities and other educational audio. Students will be able to check out the players.

Grant amount: $1,827

Applicant: Ryan Streiff

Project: “Arithmetical Jargon 1” follows second-graders’ ideas on how they would like to learn math vocabulary. Students will share their knowledge throughout the year using a concept called a “math vocabulary wall.” Students will be assigned words to create canvases, posters, or other electronic items that will be displayed in the room.

Grant amount: $950

Flathead High School

Applicant: Stephanie McLean

Project: “Complicated Cubes” will help students build spatial thinking skills as they use Shashibo magnet puzzle cubes to visualize shapes and patterns in 3-D and manipulate them to create new shapes and patterns. Another goal of the project is to engage tactile learners and help students see that math is not just one-dimensional.

Grant amount: $679.92

Applicant: Allison Kreis

Project: “Flathead Quiver Relaunch” will revive the high school’s literary magazine. Students will be involved in all aspects of production — editing, layout, publicity and marketing. A print edition will be sold in the spring at a public reading and exhibit of students’ literary and visual art.

Grant amount: $1,000

Applicant: Tracey Johnson

Project: “Hate to Read” funding will be used to create a book and magazine corner with a selection of texts aimed at capturing the interest of students who either have low interest or no in reading to keep practicing and increase their proficiency. Titles will draw from topics relevant to Montana students who grow up camping, fishing and learning survival skills, for example.

Grant amount: $2,000

Applicants: Carla Martin, Sarah Lamb, Brittany Williams, Kay Lister, Ken Stephens, Lisa Fant and Colleen O'Dell

Project: “Social/Emotional and Transition Support” funding will be used to buy a cohesive and interactive curriculum and materials that addresses social/emotional and behavioral/independence needs of students with physical, cognitive and behavioral needs on individualized education plans to support them as they transition from high school to adulthood.

Grant amount: $1,708.91

Hedges Elementary School

Applicant: Shannon Marshall

Project: “iPads for Technology” funding will go toward purchasing enough iPads to operate more robots the school currently owns in smaller groups on a consistent basis to teach coding.

Grant amount: $1,969

Applicant: Dani Burtsfield,

Project: “Teaching Character Development with Children's Literature” seeks to teach kindergarteners social, emotional and ethical skills through children's literature.

Grant amount: $579

H.E. Robinson Ag Education Center

Applicant: Carin Edwards

Project: “Genetics of a Cash Cow” will give students experience using equipment to analyze DNA samples and apply data to solve the real-life problem: “Which bull should be purchased to breed for increased milk protein production in offspring to bring farmers a higher return on investment?”

Grant amount: $2,000, sponsored by Morrison-Maierle, Glacier Bank, Applied Materials

Kalispell Middle School

Applicants: Kris Schreiner, Jerry Records, Maggie Owens, Bob Macauley and Dan Ogden

Project: “Montana Heritage Log Cabin Build” will have eighth-graders building a traditional log cabin as Montana’s homesteaders did with lumber donated by Stoltz Land and Lumber Company. The cabin will then be marketed and sold with students reconstructing it on the purchaser’s property. Proceeds will be used toward the next year’s build.

Grant amount: $2,018.28, sponsored by Morrison-Maierle and Applied Materials

Applicant: Susan Trefney

Project: “Brain Balance to optimize retention of math facts” will get seventh-graders moving with Balance, Auditory, Vision Exercises (BAVX) and using equipment such as sandbags, balance boards and racquetball sets to engage both hemispheres of the brain in efforts to improve memorization of multiplication facts.

Grant amount: $1,249.57

Applicants: Maree Mitchell, Colin Kazmier and Maggie Owens

Project: “Whodunnit? Using Properties of Matter to Solve a Crime,” asks eighth-graders to use their scientific knowledge to solve a crime committed at school by gathering baseline data about known substances and comparing it to crime scene evidence.

Grant amount: $2,000

Rankin Elementary School

Applicant: Marla Nelson

Project: “VersaTiles” is an interactive activity where second-graders will use a screenless tool to practice and self-check math and reading skills.

Grant amount: $879.96

Russell Elementary School

Applicant: Liz Bernau

Project: “Bringing Coding to Life,” funding will be used to purchase Dash robots and launchers for students to learn block coding.

Grant amount: $899.90, sponsored by Applied Materials

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or