EEF Donates $2,000 for Kids in Need

Part of the EEF’s mission is to support students who are unable to pay for school-related expenses such as field trips, mittens, or a graduation cap and gown. After all, it’s hard to do your best in school if you can’t fully participate. This year the school district asked for an increased donation of $2,000 and we were able to provide them with the full amount.

Our main source for this donation is our Deb Olsen Memorial Fund (established to honor long-time ECSD Business Manager Deb Olsen), which is dedicated specifically to helping students in need. If you’d like to contribute to this cause or any of the EEF’s programs, visit our Donate page. You can even set up a monthly donation for whatever amount is right for you.


2019-2020 Grant Recipients

Thanks to the generosity of our community, the EEF has granted ECSD teachers thousands of dollars to explore innovative programs outside of the standard curriculum again this year. Grant applications are selected based on their academic focus and ability to impact large numbers of students. Congratulations to this year’s winners! From left to right:

  • Meghann Proper: 8th grade Imagination Vacation
  • Kate Burton: 3rd grade Flexible seating — Bucket Seats
  • Abby Beyerl: K-12 Breakout EDU
  • Rachel Wenzel: K-5 Author Visit (Jacqueline Briggs Martin)
  • Deanna Pickering: 4th grade Flexible seating — Wobble Chairs
  • Kim Sperandeo-Wehner: 4th grade Flexible seating — Wobble Chairs
  • Connie Schultz: 4th grade STEM: Creating a Modular Modern Home kits
  • Christina Ross: Ozobots for 2nd grade STEAM education
  • Kelley Gransee: K-5 Author Visit (Jacqueline Briggs Martin)
  • Beth Jeremiason: Ozobots for 2nd grade STEAM education
  • Rachel Marty: A Year of Kindergarten STEM
  • Jenny Runkle: A Year of Kindergarten STEM
  • Also pictured: EEF president Cory Neeley

The Kindergarten staff also received a grant for a Kindergarten Indoor Obstacle Course/Stations Kit.

Follow us on Facebook or keep an eye on this website for updates throughout the year to learn how these grants impact students!


Mindfulness in Middle School

by Nathan Koniowka

Beth Oswald, a social studies teacher at JC McKenna Middle School, received a grant to enroll in the Mindful Educator Essentials course being offered by the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO). This six-week, online course teaches mindfulness meditation through videos, readings, and reflections, as well as guided mindfulness practices. It also covered the current research on mindfulness and the brain, emotion regulation, and compassion.

Over the duration of the course, teachers learn the basics of mindfulness meditation, how to work with thoughts that arise when practicing mindfulness, techniques and practices that allow one to navigate emotions and cultivate positive states of mind, as well as support for developing a daily sitting practice. Teachers learn multiple ways to cope with stress and relax, as well as a more mindful approach to their curriculum and students. 

Knowing that the middle school students will have some extra stress this year with all of the construction, the middle school piloted a wellness program last year. For fifteen minutes after the first class of the day, students participated in various activities such as yoga, coloring, zentangle, and general mindfulness exercises. This break in the day offered students time to take a deep breath and flush out stress. Upon having the students take a survey on how they liked the wellness program as well as how effective it was, the results were positive with most students saying that they enjoyed the activities offered.


EHS Connects to Students Around the World

by Nathan Koniowka

Dana Teske, a spanish teacher at Evansville High School, received a grant for funding of the Global Education Project (GEP), an extracurricular club at the high school with the focus of worldwide education for positivity. Meeting in the mornings during TRIE at the high school, students learn about the cultures of other countries such as Nicaragua and South Africa. This club has been around for a little more than 4 years, after 2 high school students created the idea. 

Recently, GEP has begun to work with 3 outside organizations, Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners, World Bicycle Relief, and Sizabantwana. Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners works to promote mutual understanding and establish relationships among the citizens of Wisconsin and Nicaragua, and to encourage volunteerism through education, economic, and social projects. World Bicycle Relief works to provide people in developing countries with bicycles, allowing for easier transportation to school, greater access to essential goods and services, and reduced travel time for healthcare workers. Sizabantwana works to provide safe communal facilities and care centers in South Africa, where volunteers cook and serve food, as well as hold daily gatherings.

Within Evansville High School, students involved in GEP have held multiple school supply drives to gather any new or lightly used school supplies to send to rural Nicaragua. Alongside they have begun to create a pen pal program where EHS students can write to students in a learning center in Diriamba, Nicaragua. With this program the group also plans to send children’s books made by the Spanish III classes to Diriamba. The funding from this grant has allowed for expansion of the club as well as helped bring funding from the school for various GEP related activities.


Robotics for Middle School Students

by Nathan Koniowka

Dave Kopf, the technical education teacher at JC McKenna Middle School, received an EEF grant for the interactive and openly creative VEX robotics kits. This grant expanded the technology education department of the middle school, allowing all three grades (6th,7th,and 8th) to experience building and programming creative, problem solving robots. With these newly-acquired robotics kits there is the possibility of starting a robotics club at the middle school, offering many other opportunities for students to be creative and explore programming and robotics.

Using these kits, students can build anything from cars to conveyor belts with the use of metal frames, base plates, and slides, alongside of gears, buttons, and all kinds of switches. Along the way students will create, modify, and troubleshoot both the programming and building of their creations. The idea for the grant came about via email, and grew from there.

The units in which the VEX kits start out with lesson 1, in which the students learn the multiple applications of robotics and the effects they may have on our lives. For each of the six units a career activity option is provided, allowing for students to create something that could be used in a certain career. In lesson 2, Mechanical Systems, students use the components of the VEX kits to build mechanical systems, determining their purpose and real world use. In Lesson 3, automated systems, using the VEX kits and ROBOTC programming language, students build, model, and test solutions to automated problems. At the end of the class, after learning how to program a car, the students are able to have a scaled-down version of robot wars, making cars equipped with systems that can be used to fight other cars.


Makerspace Inspires Creativity

By Nathan Koniowka

Abby Beyerl, the District Library Media Specialist and Varsity Cheer Coach, received a grant for a new, interactive, addition to the Library Media Center within the high school called the Makerspace. Within the Makerspace students can work in stations, producing and experimenting with video creation, music, programming, sewing, and many more activities. The idea for applying for the grant was inspired by the Makerspace in the Verona School District’s high school, as well as many conferences that highlighted Makerspaces and their ability to inspire creativity in students.

The stations that are currently being offered within the Makerspace are paper crafts, coding, sewing, fiber arts, jewelry making, computer programming, music, hands-on creation, video creation, and tools/destruction. Alongside all of these, the program is also open to new stations and might rotate options in the future as it grows. For now it is offered as a TRIE option for high school students, which has had a group of about 20 students through this school year. The Brain Power Project, another program offered at the high school, might also use the space for completing their projects.

Students in the new Makerspace

The feedback from the students has been positive, with a survey being available for students to give their input. There is also a whiteboard in which the students can request materials and stations. A Google Classroom page has also been created for students to post their work.

The grant created a solid starting point for the program to meet students’ interests and allow them to creatively explore different topics and activities. With this great start for the program, and its future growth, the Makerspace is planned to be open to classes, allowing for students to use its materials and activities as a resource for projects and class assignments. The program will also be open to community involvement and their expertise, with guest speakers or presenters sharing their knowledge with students.


Expanded Programming Options for High School

by Nathan Koniowka

One of the 2018-2019 grant recipients; Christine Schullo, a math and computer science teacher at Evansville High School, will be able to expand the applications of programming within her classes with the new addition of Finch Robots. The idea for applying for the grant came from only having enough robots for people to work in groups of 2 or 3, causing some students to get distracted. With the addition of more robots, there has been a rise in engagement, focus, and exploration within the class.  

Although an entry-level robot, the Finch is equipped with light, temperature, and obstacle sensors, accelerometers, an RGB LED, motors, and a sound buzzer, allowing the students to have an even more creative and interactive learning experience. Some applications of these features include programming the robot to solve a maze, using the keyboard of a computer as a piano, and remotely controlling the robot.    

So far the students have showed a heavy interest in the newly introduced robots, exploring the possibilities for programs and creating their own games that can be controlled with the Finch. The use of these robots may also be useful to the students who plan to take the AP Computer Science test, furthering their knowledge of various programming languages and the process of objective based programming.  

Going forward, Mrs. Schullo plans to incorporate other programming languages into the robotics curriculum, such as Python, and Snap!, alongside the already included C++, Java, and Scratch, as well as possibly expand into more advanced robotics.     

Mrs. Schullo with Finch robots


50/50 Raffle Winners

Tom and Ann Dunphy won our 50/50 raffle, which raised almost $400 for the EEF! Thanks to everyone who bought tickets to support our schools, and thanks to our volunteers who gave their time to sell tickets. Pictures of the winners are above (Tom, on the right, with EEF board members) and below (Ann is on the right).


Thank You, Evansville, for a Successful 2018 Strawberry Festival

The Evansville community showed up in full force to support the school district at this year’s Annual Strawberry Festival. In fact, we sold out of strawberry shortcake! All proceeds go to the EEF’s support of our schools.

Special thanks to John and Barb Willoughby and to Bill Kasten for organizing the event and to the many volunteers who made it possible. Thank you to Larsen Acres and Tipi Produce for sponsoring the most delicious event of the summer!


Congratulations to Our 2018-2019 Grant Recipients

On August 28th, the EEF presented over $6,000 in grants to Evansville teachers at the annual Back-to-School breakfast. From robotics to music, and from flexible seating to mindfulness training, teachers impressed the Grants committee with their innovation and commitment to improving opportunities for all students. Award winners include:

Wish List Grants

  • Levi Leonard:
    • Jennifer Johnson and Tamara Wallisch: Boogie board tablets
  • TRIS:
    • Kari Reuter and Kendra Statton: iPad for reading support
    • Connie Schultz: “Hold Back the Water” STEM activity
  • JC McKenna:
    • Dave Kopf: Robotics and engineering supplies
    • Beth Oswald and Kelli Ours: Mindfulness training
    • Brittany Shotliff: Supplies for functional skills program
  • EHS:
    • Amanda Leahy: Music composition commission
    • Christine Schullo: Robots for computer programming

Academic Club Grants

  • Levi Leonard:
    • Deb Fritz: Diverse books for Wednesday Morning Club
  • EHS:
    • Amanda Leahy: Music for Jazz Clubs
    • Dana Teske: Global Education Project
    • Melissa Bonow: Brain Power Project for Advanced Learners

Excellence in Education Endowment Fund Grants

  • JC McKenna:
    • Abby Beyerl: Flexible seating
  • EHS:
    • Abby Beyerl: Makerspace supplies