Preparing today's students for tomorrow's world in a caring learning environment

October 30, 2017

Six “innovation grants” are being awarded to Mid-Prairie teachers this week by the Fund for Academic Excellence, a new educational endowment of Mid-Prairie Foundation. Proposals by middle school and high school teachers were submitted for projects in robotics, mathematics, music, fine arts, consumer science, and mentoring. The awards are:

  • $400 for Incorporating Appropriate Manipulatives into Math Classrooms, proposed by Math Department teachers Deidra Baker, Deb Carlson, Jeremy Meyers, Elsie Spilman, Sara Puttmann, and Ashley Bartels. The funding will be used to purchase sets of tiles for Middle and High School Algebra and Applied Algebra classes. The tiles help students understand abstract math concepts (such as “variable”) and can assist in bridging gaps with English language learning students.
  • $400 to fund Display Panels for Art Critiques, with which Middle School teacher Casey Leonard proposes to meet art education standards in related to the presentation, interpretation, and evaluation of student artwork. Funds will be used to upgrade the school’s current display equipment and increase the emphasis on presentation and communication about artworks, not simply their creation.
  • $600 for Mid-Prairie Art Museum, proposed by Dain Jeppson, to promote, inspire, and honor High School students in the arts by professionally installing exemplary work. The installations will not only beautify the halls of the school but will also help Mid-Prairie meet numerous national standards in the visual arts.
  • $617 for A Whole New Ball Game – Sphero Coding by Denise Busch and Frank Slabaugh, will be used to teach coding to 5th grade students and then allow them to transfer their digital code to a physical object. The ability to see student-created coding programs played out in the physical world will improve understanding of written code. All middle school students will have the opportunity to learn to code using the Sphero robots.
  • $881 to fund proposal by Terra Huber in the Innovation Lab for Teaching Robotics through Virtual Reality Programming. The funds will be used to purchase software that provides a cost-effective way for individual 8th grade students to plan, implement and assess their own robotics project. All middle school students will have opportunity to learn to code using this software.
  • $602 for Building Musical Excellence through Foundational Exercises, proposed by Lauren DiGiorgio, to purchase a set of highly–regarded ensemble exercises for developing technical accuracy and expressive qualities in musical performances by middle school students. The exercises span a varied repertoire from different cultures and styles and are designed to help beginning/intermediate students in combined grade-level ensembles, as well as set new challenges for advanced players.

The endowment provides grants between $250 - $1,500 to teachers and student organizations for new and expanded educational programs in academic, fine and industrial arts, extracurricular, and community projects. A steering committee representing alumni, students, teachers, and administrators selects grants each semester. Committee members are: Gerry Beeler, Katie Frantz, Brenna Goode, Cheryl Miller, Don Randol, Rob Stout, and Jeff Swartzentruber.

“We were happy to fund a range of projects across the curriculum. Although none of the awards are very large, they do give a boost to teachers who are building their programs,” said Brenna Goode.

The Fund for Academic Excellence was initiated by a seed grant from the Mid-Prairie Class of 1966. After a successful pilot year at the high school in 2016-2017, the program is being expanded to include the middle school. “We are beginning a fundraising campaign so that we can afford to expand beyond the high school. We’re hoping to reach many of Mid-Prairie’s 3500-plus alumni and friends of the school in the next few months,” explained Cheryl Miller.

For further information:

Cheryl Miller, (651) 653-8133, Class of 1966, Steering Committee

Jeff Swartzentruber, MPCSD Business Manager, Steering Committee