When Lindsay McLaughlin first came on board as director of the Wayne Community Schools foundation five years ago, she sought advice from other school foundation leaders and happened upon an “IDEA” to help the school district.
The IDEA (Inspiring Development to Educational Achievements) Grant Award was created to help teachers in the district bring technology and curriculum to enhance learning into their classrooms that might not otherwise be funded by the school district.
“When I first started, I had gone to other school foundations to get an idea of what their processes are and learn about the job,” she said. “I knew when I came in as a first-time executive director that there hadn’t been an opportunity for that here and it was something our foundation could directly support with education initiatives that are used directly by our students, and the foundation board was in agreement.”
Teachers have a chance to fill out a grant request each year to express their need and justify how students can work directly with that technology or curriculum, and a five-person committee looks at the submissions and awards a total of four grants, two to teachers in the Wayne Elementary building two for those in the Junior-Senior High facility. The school’s preschool is also encouraged to apply.
“These are things that don’t fall under district funding that makes things easier for our teachers with the different technology devices, and the kids also enjoy it because they can utilize the technology or curriculum,” she said.
The grants are funded through an internal campaign among teachers in the district, and those funds are matched by two local corporate sponsors – Pac N’ Save and Ameritas.
“Pac N’ Save has been a donor since we started the program, and Ameritas has been on board the last two years,” McLaughlin said. “They’ve been great to work with.”
Once teachers have submitted their grant project ideas, a five-member committee takes a look at each application. Representatives from Pac N’ Save, a Foundation representative, a student and two community members get together to grade each application and determine how the need will fit within classroom, how many students will benefit and where the money comes from. Two applications from each building will receive grant awards each year.
McLaughlin said there usually is a healthy number of applications from teachers who want to enhance their classrooms, and that makes for some interesting discussions as the committee tries to pick out the four winners each year.
“There is definitely some discussion as they go over all the projects,” McLaughlin said. “Nobody knows who applied for what, and the only thing they know is what building each applicaiton comes from. They review them and then we meet and they each pick their top two and we discuss the needs from there.”
Last year’s IDEA grants provided for kitchen equipment and utensils for a new Culinary Skills class at the high school, made equipment and software possible to help English as a Second Language students, and help younger readers develop a keen interest in reading while reading the book “Magic Tree House: Rain Forests.”
Grants for 2017-18 were recently awarded. One is for Mrs. Schardt’s cuisine skills class, including new utensils and supplies; Miss Rasmussen’s new ag education and FFA program, including video equipment to record classes and projects; a level-friendly library for Mrs. Meyer and the Kindergarten teachers to help kids find books at different reading levels; and a document camera for Mrs. Rockhill’s Kindergarten class.
For more information about the IDEA Grant Award, visit the Wayne Community Schools Foundation website.