Foundation honors creativity, innovation

Since its founding in 1980, the Yukon Public School’s Foundation for Excellence has given out almost 800 grants to Yukon school teachers valued at more than a half-million dollars.
Thursday, during a banquet at The Palace, more than $20,000 was given to 28 more teachers.
For Pat Snyder, who along with her husband Jim, was among the founding members of the Foundation, innovation in education has always been an important element in determining the grant recipients.
“Jim wanted the teachers who did well to be rewarded. It was time to do something for them, and it advanced to what it is today,” she said.
Snyder said she is proud of what the Foundation has become.
“I am proud to be here every year,” she said.
This year, 54 applicants applied for grants. Twenty-eight grants were awarded. The largest grant that can be awarded is $1,000.
Suzanne Briscoe, who has been involved in the Foundation process for almost two decades, said this year’s grant applications were among the most intriguing of her time on the board.
Grants were awarded to teachers in eight of Yukon’s 11 schools.
Skyview Elementary, for the third consecutive year, had the largest number of grant recipients with nine.
There were five recipients from Yukon High School.
Briscoe said the awards are given based on how they will impact students as well as the uniqueness of the project.
“It helps them to do a little extra and to bring their lessons to life,” Briscoe said. “We are really pleased.”
The grants are only given for lesson plans that aren’t funded under the normal school district budget, said Briscoe.
Typically, things like iPads and other electronic items that fall within the school district’s purchasing power are not approved.
These grants, she said, are for “the extras.”
“Different ideas. You can kind of get in a rut with what is interesting to students. This year, we’ve got some really interesting science and math and music projects that are really good,” she said. “It is about how to reach them (students.)
Briscoe said finding innovative ways to engage students continues to be a challenge.
“Teachers today have a lot more challenges than they did 20 or 25 years ago,” she said.
The grants, Briscoe said, are a way of encouraging that innovation and creativity.

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