Foundation Awards Nearly $7,500 in Innovation Grants

The MCPASD Education Foundation awarded 10 grants to seven schools and the Middleton Youth Center on Tuesday, November 25 during its semi-annual bus tour.

Staff members receiving grants included Clark Street Community School’s Jason Pertzborn, Elm Lawn’s Casey Harrod and John Becker, Glacier Creek’s Pamela Anderson and Emily Hutchison, Middleton High School’s Caitlin Farrell and Tamara Weisbrod, Northside’s Sara Whirry, Sauk Trail’s Paige Bessick and Stephanie Spence and West Middleton’s Diane Boles and Nicholas Smith. In addition, Gabrielle Hinahara, the director of the Youth Center, also received a grant.

“It is a great thing that the Foundation is doing, and it is so much fun to being involved and see the joy in the recipient’s faces,” said Dan Geocaris, who drove the grant tour’s bus twice in 2014.

The Foundation awarded $7,335 as part of its fall cycle. That total included a $1,250 grant sponsored by the State Bank of Cross Plains, a $750 grant sponsored by Monsanto and a $250 grant sponsored by an anonymous donor. It is the second consecutive year State Bank of Cross Plains and Monsanto have sponsored grants.

The Foundation has distributed nearly $20,000 since it begin issuing grants in 2013. Since its inception in 2011, the Foundation has also raised more than $150,000 for its endowment fund though Madison Community Foundation.

“It is such a thrill to be able to distribute funds so generously contributed by our donors to some of our many amazing teachers for inspiring and exciting programs for students throughout our school district,” Foundation board chair Courtney Ward-Reichard said. “I am so looking forward to seeing the results of these many diverse initiatives.”

If you would like to contribute to the Foundation’s endowment fund, please visit the MCF website. If you would like to sponsor a grant during the Spring 2015 cycle, please e-mail Foundation executive director Perry Hibner or call him at 829-9014

The 2-hour, 30-minute yellow bus tour included stops at all of the schools. More than 20 MHS band members played “On Wisconsin” and another song in each of the schools before Ward-Reichard presented each recipient with flowers donated by Copps and a certificate.

“This was the band’s best performance yet,” said Stephanie Moen-Mueller, a Foundation board member who helps coordinate the band participants. “Such a good thing, giving away money — but the band is what makes it fun!”

Other Foundation board members who attended part or all of the celebration included Superintendent Don Johnson, Ellen Lindgren and Jeff Roepsch. Middleton Chamber of Commerce executive director Van Nutt also attended for part of the day.

Pertzborn received a $1,250 grant to help students learn how to write resumes and cover letters, apply for jobs, interview for positions, receive paychecks, learn about W-2 and W-4 forms and prepare personal budgets. It is the second grant he has received from the Foundation. This grant was funded by the State Bank of Cross Plains.

Harrod, a first-grade teacher, received a $300 grant to purchase books for below benchmark students with the goal of helping the readers reach Level H or higher by the end of the school year.

Becker received a $600 grant to hire experienced professional musicians to work all day with students in the spring. Students will learn about musical, cultural and dance traditions in jazz with strong African, Caribbean and South American influences, culminating in an all-school concert. This is the second grant he has received from the Foundation.

“I am very excited to get going on this project and all of our Elm Lawn students will benefit in a powerful way,” he said.  “Thanks, too, for the surprise of it and for the high school band sharing their music throughout our school. I heard all day from the students about the band playing and marching through school. They really enjoyed that, and it was great send-off to the Thanksgiving weekend.”

Anderson received $350 to provide opportunities for Glacier Creek’s recently formed Gay-Straight Alliance Club. She plans to use the funds to provide financial support for students of need who wish to attend workshops or activities, along with supplies the club may need.

Hutchison received $775 to purchase canvas and acrylic paint and hire artist Michael Owens to work with students over two days as they develop murals with a simple, inspiring word. The paintings will be displayed at Glacier Creek and around the District.

“As strong as all of the applications were, the Foundation’s grant committee was very impressed with the quality of the Baltimore Love Mural Project,” executive director Perry Hibner said.

Farrell and Weisbrod received $310 to pay for postage for postcards that are sent  home to families of MHS students who are displaying positive behaviors in the classroom and community. It is the second grant the Foundation has given to the MHS PBIS program.

Whirry received $1,000 to purchase supplies for the school’s SPLASH student advisory program. Activities are held monthly in small groups and involve every student and staff member. Principal Roz Craney said this has created a strong community of learning and encouraged students to be role models.

“The excitement this program has generated has been fantastic,” Hibner said. “I’ve heard from many Northside parents who say their children talk about this more than anything else.”

Bessick and Spence received $250 to create a mural at the school with flags on a map representing the diverse population of students and staff at Sauk Trail. Two classroom discussions will also be created for all teachers to use in discussions about the mural.

Boles and Smith received $1,500 for materials to help create a sustainable cycle of composting, gardening and nutrition at West Middleton. Monsanto provided $750 for this grant.

Hinahara received $1,000 to purchase eight digital cameras for an after-school Photography Club that will give students the opportunity to learn about and practice photography. The Youth Center meets every day for 2 hours after school at Clark Street Community School and is open to all middle school students in the District.

In all, the grants should impact nearly 4,000 students across the District, Hibner said.

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