The Sun Prairie Education Foundation (SPEF) awarded over $27,000 to educators in the Sun Prairie Area School District Dec. 22.

Since then, some grants have already brough students educational enrichment opportunities, while others remain lined up for the spring. Here’s a look at what a few of these educators are bringing to their students with the money from the foundation.

Elementary School

Bridgette Baldwin received a $450 grant to bring Snake Discovery, LLC to C.H. Bird Elementary School, where kindergarten students will learn about snakes from an expert. The students will be able to hold and feed the snakes, as well as ask questions to the expert throughout the day on April 21.

Maggie Davison, music teacher at Westside Elementary, brought in musical engagement group The Figureheads for an all-day song writing workshop with individual classes at Westside, as well as an assembly for the whole school. Students had the chance to work with the group to create their own melodies and rhythms on a drum machine, write their own lyrics, and finally perform the song and a dance in front of the school.

At Westside Elementary, Allison Samb, psychologist, and Shaya Schreiber, social worker, won a grant to screen third and fourth grade students for symptoms of traumatic stress for Bounce Back, an evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy group for students with those symptoms. The screening will help Samb and Schreiber identify students who could benefit from Bounce Back, which is currently implemented district-wide with sixth graders (CBITS). Their work will also serve as a pilot for future implementation of Bounce Back in elementary schools across the district. Children who have experienced traumatic events can exhibit stress, anger control issues, depression, anxiety and learning disabilities, according to Samb and Schreiber. Bounce Back aims to decrease physical and emotional symptoms of traumatic stress, increase coping and relaxation skills and teach cognitive techniques for addressing stress. It also provides information and strategies to parents and teachers. Samb and Schreiber said with this SPEF grant funding, Westside Elementary is able to support the mental health, social and emotional needs for up to 50 students who are coping with traumatic stress over the next year.

Carolyn Miller, ESL teacher at Northside Elementary School, won a $500 grant to put on an all-school celebration of the cultural backgrounds of Northside’s students and families. The Community Culture Celebration will feature Mexican and Chinese food for dinner, as well as traditional dishes families will provide based on their backgrounds. There will also be a mini museum with items which families and staff bring in from their backgrounds and travels, as well as crafts and music celebrating cultures of the world.

Middle and High School

Emily Kirby, music teacher at Prairie View Middle School, received a $500 grant for choir students in grades six through 12 from Patrick Marsh Middle School, PVMS, Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School and Sun Prairie High School to work with University of Wisconsin-Madison a capella group Fundamentally Sound. Students came together at the high school Jan. 6 to prepare a song for the All City Choir Festival, as well as work as individual choirs and sections with other directors. Fundamentally Sound also performed. Kirby said she applied for the grant to help create a sense of community with other singers in Sun Prairie schools, and for the students to have fun singing.

Chris Gleason, band director at Patrick Marsh Middle School, received a $1,000 grant for ComMission Possible 7, a project in which the seventh grade band collaborates with a professional composer to create a new piece for the students to play. Students researched and explored the artwork of Paul Klee, specifically his painting “The Twittering Machine.” Drawing on their interpretations of the meaning of the painting, they then submitted essays and videos to composer Brian Balmages. Having received the SPEF grant, Gleason will be able to take the 100-member band on a trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see artwork by Paul Klee as well as attend a clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Erin Barnard at Patrick Marsh Middle School received a $600 grant to purchase recording equipment for Patrick Marsh students to write, produce and star in their own podcast as an after school club or classroom extension activity. Barnard said the podcast’s topics could include interviews with administrators, teachers and other school staff, coverage of school events, student views on current events, and quizzes or games. Barnard added she hopes to be able to post and share the students’ podcast online with the school district and community.

--Meghan Chua

(1) comment

Liam Scully

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