La Crosse Public Education Foundation awards 32 'Gold Star Grant - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

La Crosse Public Education Foundation awards 32 'Gold Star Grants' supporting innovation in classrooms

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The La Crosse Public Education Foundation awarded nearly $42,000 in grants to La Crosse schools Wednesday morning. 

Recipients included Lincoln Middle School Counselor Rick Blasing. Blasing says he plans to bring in nationally known motivational speaker Craig Hiller to speak in part of an all-school assembly which will include Lincoln, Longfellow and Logan Middle Schools. Hiller focuses on creating a more compassionate school culture and speaks about the power of kindness. Blasing also added that hearing Hiller's message will be beneficial for students.     

"He brings kids up on stage. He empowers them, he doesn't embarrass them. There is laughter, there are tears sometimes when he is talking about stories that he shares. Without exception when we see him, and I have seen him in other settings, he inspires people to be better,"said Blasing.

Lincoln Middle School health teacher Melissa Norman was also a recipient of one of those grants. Norman plans to purchase six fatal vision alcohol impairment goggles as well as six fatal vision marijuana simulation goggles. These goggles will help simulate how a person's vision is impaired while using alcohol or marijuana. Norman says that these goggles will help prevent students from experimenting with drugs or alcohol. "We know that the brain is developing until the age of twenty-five and if the students start using in their teen years it increases their risk of becoming addicted for the rest of their lives so we really want the students to prevent and avoid even trying it and we hope that these goggles can help give them some insight on the impacts it has on their brain and their body"

Another recipient was Lincoln Middle School literacy specialist Ruth Baardseth. Baardseth works with students and assists them in communicating thoughts, and ideas. She plans to purchase durable "wordless" books. These "wordless" books contain only illustrations which allow students to think creatively to create narrative text and write their own stories. Bardseth has been using her own money to purchase these books for her classroom and can see the passion spreading throughout the school and that passion will grow with the help of this grant. 

"There are constraints to education right now and dollars aren't always available and when you are looking at a classroom of 120 students at $10-20 a book that is a lot of money but if you can start small and just get some which is what I did you start to spread that passion and other people are like 'Wow, that is a really cool idea I want to help you and support you in that'."

The 32 grants handed out this morning were chosen from 45 applications and totaled more than $76,000. This is the first round of grants to be awarded this school year. The second set of applications are due February 26.    

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