Organization awards grants for La Crosse teacher projects

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Summit Environmental teacher Carissa Brudos poses with for photo after receiving a grant.
Summit Environmental teacher Carissa Brudos poses with for photo after receiving a grant.

French Island, Wis. (WXOW) – It’s not uncommon to hear of a teacher using their own money for supplies in their classroom. The National Center of Education Statistics found the average amount spent is nearly $480 a year.

The La Crosse Public Education Foundation wants to help fund the ideas of teachers by giving them grants for their proposals.

Tuesday, a number of those grants were handed out.

Three teachers at Summit Environmental Elementary School received a gift before Christmas rolls around, grants to bring their ideas to life.

“It’s an opportunity to see the teacher’s gratification they get from not just getting the grant, but that sort of validation they get,’ LPEF Executive Director David Stoeffler said. “The feeling that what they do really matters.”

Grant in hand of Principal

24 grants totaling more than $40,000 were handed out across the district. The grants range in size from $5,000 down to just over $300. For art teacher Carissa Brudos, she received $3,500 to help support a collaboration between her classes and a Minnesota artist educating them on the importance of pollinators like bees in the state.

“Letting the kids know how important bees to pollinating our food,” Brudos said. “If we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t have some of the food that we eat and different things.”

Another grant will go toward an archaeology dig to learn more about the Native American culture. They’ll work with UW-La Crosse and experts from the Ho Chunk Nation to gain a deeper knowledge of the earliest people living on the land.

Member of the La Crosse Public Education Foundation Board hands out grant.
Member of the La Crosse Public Education Foundation Board hands out a grant.

“Native Americans were here starting 12,000 to 13,000 years ago,” Jean Dowiasch, Education Coordinator for the Mississippi Valley Archeology Center at UW-La Crosse said. “Europeans came in starting 600 or 700 hundred years ago.”

Principal Dirk Hunter believes this all of this creates deeper subjects and a better education for students.

“Education is all around us,” Hunter said. “Learning is all around us. It’s such a wonderful thing to have an organization that allows us to say, ‘Yeah I think we can do this’.”

“When someone has an idea, there’s not a reason to say no. Let’s explore it. Let’s see what we can do,” Hunter added.

This won’t be the only money handed out this school year. Roughly another $40,000 will be handed out in the spring. So projects that didn’t receive funding now could still get funded.

Combined with their other support, the foundation will provide about $300,000 to the district this year.

Summit Environmental teacher Carissa Brudos poses with for photo after receiving a grant.
Jeremy Culver

Jeremy Culver

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