With a new school year upon us, local teachers have been busy preparing their classrooms and lesson plans. But while freshly decorated bulletin boards and new textbooks are common, some teachers in the Wayzata School District have been shopping for unusual items for their students, including a drone, full-size fossils and even an aeroponic tower garden. Thanks to the Wayzata Education Fund (WEF), 12 grants totaling more than $36,000 will bring innovation in a wide range of curricular areas to students in every district school this year.
An all-volunteer nonprofit organization, the Wayzata Education Fund’s mission is to foster community support for innovative teaching. WEF encourages teachers and staff to imagine new ways to engage students and support “excellence for each and every student.” Projects should be intended to move the learning environment from “excellent” to “exceptional.” The funding is specifically intended for projects above and beyond those typically funded by the district and school budget, PTA/PTO, Boosters and other existing Wayzata district and school resources. All grants are funded by donations from families, businesses and district staff.
“Our grant program provides an opportunity for teachers and staff to ‘dream’ about new ways to teach our kids,” says Adam Hannemann, Wayzata Education Fund chairperson. “This year we are funding a wide range of projects, including an aeroponic tower garden for 2nd graders, full-size fossil specimens for the new Evolution class at the high school, a drone to assist 7th graders with field research and virtual reality technology to bring elementary students on immersive ‘field trips’ to places like museums, foreign countries and outer space.”
Since its inception in 2003, the Wayzata Education Fund (formerly the Wayzata Public Schools Education Foundation) has distributed grant funds totaling more than $230,000 and is the only organization that raises private funds for innovative teaching for the entire school district. Teachers and staff submit grant applications from August through December each year and WEF awards the grants the following spring.
Community is at the heart of the Wayzata Education Fund, according to Medina resident and WEF board member Liz Brown. “I really enjoy that this is an all-volunteer group with different types of people from the community – parents of kids from elementary school to college, district teachers and alumni,” says Brown. “Also, we wouldn’t be able to provide these grants each year without the generous support of community members and local businesses.”
The Wayzata Education Fund’s largest annual fundraiser is the “Drive 4 Excellence” golf tournament, which will be held at Wayzata Country Club on September 18. Now in its 5th year, the “Drive 4 Excellence” has raised more than $125,000 and is attended by Wayzata district families, representatives of area businesses and district staff.
Visit www.wayzataedfund.org to learn more about the Wayzata Education Fund, the “Drive 4 Excellence” golf tournament, to make a donation or to contact WEF about volunteer opportunities.
Sidebar on “Drive 4 Excellence” Golf Tournament:
Support the Wayzata Education Fund (WEF) by participating in its largest annual fundraiser – the “Drive 4 Excellence” golf tournament – on Monday, September 18 at Wayzata Country Club. In addition to golfers, WEF is looking for families and local businesses to help sponsor the event. Visit www.wayzataedfund.org for more information about registration, sponsor opportunities or to make a donation if you can’t attend.