Projects from teaching about local history to helping students create mosaics for a school garden and building a portable desalinization machine will be funded by 32 grants totaling $41,935 announced Wednesday by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

Also among this year’s Gold Star Grants are projects to provide simulation goggles to help students see how alcohol and marijuana can impair vision and judgment; support all-school assemblies at all three middle schools focused on creating a compassionate school culture; and training for two teachers who will in turn train district staff on self-care techniques to remain healthy while helping children who are dealing with trauma in their lives.

The 32 grants were chosen from among 45 applications totaling more than $76,000. Grants recipients were selected based on creativity, ability to engage students, and the total impact or reach of the project.

Applications are due Feb. 26 for a second set of grants.

“These teachers deserve a ‘gold star’ for innovation and dedication to providing students with quality learning experiences,” said Shawn Dutchin, LPEF Board President and a practice operations director for Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare.

Grant recipients, along with recipients of grants awarded last spring, will be honored along with school and community leaders Jan. 22 at LPEF’s annual Grants Award Luncheon presented by Festival Foods. This year’s special honors go to:

Corporate Partner in Education: Coulee Bank, for its long-running support for LPEF and children’s causes in our community.

Leadership Award: Joe Ledvina, supervisor of buildings and grounds for the School District of La Crosse, for his work on behalf of the District and for LPEF.

Margaret Dihlmann-Malzer Distinguished Service Award: Tom and Judy Sleik, longtime volunteers with LPEF.

Three of the 32 grants were underwritten through special support from Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare:

  • $2,000 to support transportation and equipment rental for a new Hiking Club at Central High. Recipient: Isaac Pischke.
  • $1,200 to purchase six Fatal Vision Alcohol Impairment Goggles and six Fatal Vision Marijuana Simulation Goggles, plus videos and associated lesson plans and materials for use at all three middle schools and both high schools. Recipients: Melissa Norman, Matt Kitzerow, Jen Schieldt, Kelly Kline, Tia Teske, April Young, Tony Aguado and Chester Janke.
  • $600 to buy 200 books that will be distributed free to families using the Spence Elementary Food Pantry. Recipients: Deb White and Dori Bertilson.
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