Classroom Excellence Grants
Cedar Falls Schools Foundation awards Classroom Excellence Grants each year to Cedar Falls Community School (CFCS) District staff for innovative projects. These projects carry out the Foundation's mission of enhancing excellence in education by helping teachers create learning experiences for students above and beyond typical classroom activities.
Thanks to many generous donors, 14 Classroom Excellence Grants, totaling nearly $12,000, were awarded in November. Five of the fourteen were named grants — one given in honor of the Class of 1970, and four in memory of:
- Pat Lyman, former Lincoln Elementary volunteer
- Robert L. Savereide, former counselor at Peet Junior High
- Jim & Karen Bolger, Karen was a P.E. teacher at Peet Junior High
- Dick Nystuen, former school administrator
2020 Classroom Excellence Grant projects include:
- Robert Welter, science teacher, received a $646.93 grant for Circuit Blocks (STEM): 7th and 8th graders will build “circuit blocks” - small, rugged manipulatives used to explain electricity, energy transfer and heat. Students will learn key concepts such as circuit types, current, and inputs/outputs. Students will have the opportunity to build “energy transfer devices” and design experiments to test how different variables (voltage, types of circuits) affect other measurable outcomes (light intensity, volume of buzzer).
- Leah Cahill, teacher librarian, received a $1,000 grant for Yearbook Photography Materials: Peet students will be taking over ownership of the yearbook and need camera equipment to take pictures of events. With this grant, two cameras will be purchased for student use.
- Miranda Jones, Kara Rasmusson, Stacie Ramundt and Raine Kramer, preschool teachers, received a $1,000 grant for Feeling Buddies Self Regulation Tool Kits: The Feeling Buddies Self-regulation Tool Kit will help students recognize their triggers, label their feelings, and accept and manage their emotions. In preschool, teachers work with students on sharing, turn taking, expressing needs and wants appropriately, and coping skills. Early intervention fosters life-long social emotional skills.
- Jared Pirkl, Jeremy Swanson, Analise Junker and Brittany Schoof, 6th grade teachers, received a $1,000 grant for Adaptive Seating for Students in 6th Grade: Alternative seating will allow 6th graders to better collaborate with their peers both in small groups within the classroom, but also in common spaces as extensions to classroom. Alternative seating can be a motivational tool for students who are reluctant learners in a confined seating arrangement.
- Elaina Loyd, world languages teacher, received a $650 grant for World Language: Gamified with Gimkit: Gimkit is an online learning tool. Cedar Falls students have said that Gimkit is their favorite way to learn, practice, and review vocabulary in the World Language classroom.
- Lauren Greiner, Corey Peters, Ethan Jennings, Will Carter, Sydney Butler and Judy Samek, physical education teachers, received a $899.10 grant to Step Up Your Heart Rate: This grant will be used to purchase 24 aerobic steppers. The steppers will be used to educate students about target heart rate and the benefits of working heart muscles to become stronger. Additionally, the steppers will add station work to fitness units and strength centers.
- Hilary Iehl and Bridget Adam, business education teachers, received a $1,000 grant for Coding with Ozobots: Coding, Apps and Game Design is an elective course designed to enhance coding skills through static coding, block based coding, and text coding. The Ozobots will provide an opportunity to use static and block coding and also coding using physical components.
- Alexis Rokes, art teacher, received a $900 grant for Enhance Learning through Drawing Boards/Photoshop: This grant will support a one-year subscription to Adobe Photoshop and the purchase of a digital drawing board. Students will have the opportunity to work one-on-one and in groups to explore and enhance classroom assignments, while learning new skills in Adobe Photoshop and exploring digital art.
- Traci Edson and Vee Barnard, kindergarten teachers, received a $1,000 grant for Creating an Outdoor Learning Space: An outdoor learning space offers students hands-on learning opportunities and helps them develop critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills, benefiting students’ education and social emotional health.
- Andrea Hutchison, special education teacher, received a $474 grant for Student Safety and Resilience Skills: The Child Protection Unit, created by the Second Step curriculum, provides students with skills to help prevent abuse and enhance their resilience. These are critical skills for therapeutic classroom students, and the impact will spread to their families and our communities.
- Kelly Valiev, reading teacher, received a $924 grant for A Sound Foundation: Hearing, saying, and changing sounds within words is a fundamental, foundational reading skill called phonological awareness. This project would supply elementary teachers with tools to assess students' phonological awareness and build upon those skills systematically using visuals cues and hands-on manipulatives that make learning about sounds fun!
- Megan Droste, family and consumer sciences teacher, received a $550 grant for a FCS Coverstitch Sewing Machine: The coverstitch machine is the star of the machine line-up for finishing tasks. This new age technology allows knits to be turned and hemmed beautifully and quickly, with a stretchy seam that will not break. The addition of this machine will provide students more opportunities for growth in their sewing skills and projects.
- Stephanie Murch, Renee Fober, Lauren Person, Kathleen Reed and Andrea Werner, special education teachers, received a $860.39 grant for Engaging Struggling Readers Through Skill Based Activities: These materials will help students learn and practice the building blocks of reading. Learning skills through games provides a safe “risk-taking” opportunity for struggling learners.
- Darla Striegel, teacher librarian, received a $1,000 grant for North Cedar Summer Reading: North Cedar will provide and promote motivating, targeted summer-reading opportunities for our students by offering summer library hours on-site and via bookmobile-like deliveries. The program will provide book checkout, free books, volunteer-led games and activities, and reading and participation incentives.
The Foundation would like to thank alumni, staff, businesses and organizations, community members, and parents for making these grants possible.