Third-year pre-kindergarten teacher Megan Simpson hatched a plan to teach her students about life cycles.
Simpson needed funds to purchase the equipment she would need. Things like incubators for hatching eggs and habitats for ants, caterpillars and lady bugs to watch the little critters do their work
Things that four-year-olds could get excited about seeing.
Those things cost money. In all, about $800.
Simpson’s classroom budget at Skyview Elementary didn’t have that kind of extra cash. So, she turned to the Yukon school’s Foundation for Excellence.
Monday, Simpson’s plan came to life with the help of the group’s own version of the Prize Patrol.
Simpson was one of 28 teachers across the district who were awarded Foundation of Excellence grants totaling just over $20,000.
It’s the second year in a row that Simpson had been the recipient of a grant. Last year, she received $800 that was used to purchase a light table for her classroom.
Students use the table, which helps them learn how to do their work.
“I feel like, especially in pre-k, we don’t have as many hands-on activities for them to do that are engaging and fun and exciting. This way, they will see things that happen in the real world,” she said. “Things they don’t get to see normally on an everyday basis.”
“I can’t wait. I’m excited,” she said.
Simpson’s grant was one of nine given to teachers at Skyview, which for the third consecutive year received the largest number of grants in the district.
This year’s awards were presented at eight of the district’s 11 schools. This year’s grants also went to Lakeview, Ranchwood, Myers, Central, Shedeck and Central elementary schools, as well as Yukon Middle School and Yukon High School.
Yukon High School received the second-most grants with five.
Myers received four.
Skyview Principal Carla Smith was excited about the continuation of her teachers’ success.
“I could not be more proud. The effort and energy they put into their classroom each and every day is what is incredible to see. They are always looking for new ways to teach their kids. They find new things all the time,” Smith said.
Smith said 18 of her 24 teachers wrote grant applications.
“It gives them the autonomy to try some new things to help kids meet those standards we are expected to teach. And it give them an ability to express their passion in different ways. It makes for new and exciting ways to teach. It keeps them fresh,” Smith said.
D’Lynne McDaniel said since the foundation began handing out the grants in 1990, 797 grants have been awarded totaling $516,779.79.
Each year, the foundation tries to fund at least 20 grants. Each is valued at a maximum of $1,000.
This year, there were 54 grant applications. That is up about five applications from last year, she said.
“There were a lot of grant applications from the “specials,” McDaniel said.
Those include things like STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), as well as music, art and physical education.
While McDaniel could not immediately say how many of the recipients had previously received awards, she said several had been previous recipients, including Misty K. Williams, a science teacher at the high school.
McDaniel said Williams is a perennial winner and is constantly looking for new opportunities to apply for funding.
Another perennial winner was Wendy Green, who
teaches music at Myer’s Elementary.
McDaniel said the money for the grants comes from the Foundation for Excellence, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
The amount given is based on how much money is donated to the foundation each year, but on average is about $20,000.
The money is donated through fundraising efforts, but most of it is through contribution of business leaders, memorials and the public.