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Thanks to a $3,050 grant, a Summit Environmental School teacher will help train dozens of her colleagues on ways to help students suffering from traumatic stress.

The grant, underwritten by Festival Foods and presented by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation on Thursday, is among more than $28,421 awarded to 19 foundation grant recipients this fall. Other grants include $4,400 to start an outdoor classroom and garden space at Spence Elementary and $2,050 to support a Summit and North Woods International School project to expose students to global and environmental issues.

Tracy Taylor-Johnson, a third-grade teacher at Summit, wrote the grant, which will provide training for at least 60 elementary teachers on how to work with students suffering from trauma, mental health problems and behavioral challenges. The training will help teachers create positive relationships with students affected by adverse childhood experiences.

Trauma can affect students’ ability to learn and focus, their social development and even their health. This training will help teachers develop skills and a toolkit they can use to address kids dealing with trauma in their classrooms.

“We need to support the kids in our classrooms who have experienced trauma,” she said. “And there are a lot more of them than you would think.”

The 19 grants were chosen from among 33 applicants requesting more than $66,000 and were selected based on criteria of creativity, ability to engage students, and the total impact or reach of the project. In addition to providing $60,000 in annual classroom grants, the foundation provides $70,000 for the AVID college-readiness program at La Crosse’s Central and Logan high schools and nearly $22,000 for Random Acts of Kindness which helps meet students’ nutrition, hygiene, clothing, and transportation needs.

“It’s thrilling to see the ingenuity and passion district teachers bring to these grant applications,” Tammy Larson, LPEF board president and chief risk officer for Coulee Bank, said. “Each semester, they make it more and more difficult to choose from among so many worthy grant applications.”

Grant recipients, along with recipients of 23 grants announced in April, will be honored along with school and community leaders on Jan. 16, at LPEF’s annual Grants Award Luncheon, presented by Festival Foods. The full list of grant recipients is available at lacrosseeducationfoundation.org.

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Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

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