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WELLMAN -- When the Mid- Prairie High School Class of 1966 celebrated the 50th anniversary of its graduation, the alumni reminisced about days gone by when they were in high school.
They also looked to the future and ways they could help students at the high school.
The result: A $66,000 endowment that this year produced $2,500 in grants for teachers to improve classroom lessons.
But this is a class that thinks big. The Fund for Academic Excellence has set a goal of handing out $10,000 a year in grants to teachers in the district. To generate that much money, an additional $250,000 will be needed in the endowment.
The fund steering committee met Monday evening to discuss ways to raise the money, but first teachers who received grants this year told the Mid- Prairie school board about how the grants are improving instruction in their classrooms.
• Glenda Seward told about the “augmented reality sandbox” that helps students learn about landforms and how changes in topography affect things such as water flow.
• Sara Puttmann told about 3-D pens that create objects to help students better understand calculus concepts.
• Chris Tyler told about the LendingClub.org software where financial literacy students make real loans to real people, learning about financial risks and rewards.
• Susan Schweinfur th showed the camera lens she purchased to improve the quality of photography taken by students for the school yearbook.
The four teachers were part of the pilot project this year at the high school. They received grants of $500 to $1,000. Principal Jay Strickland helped teachers augment the grants with other funds such as the innovation fund that was used to purchase the augmented reality sandbox software and hardware.
Miller told the school board that expansion of the pilot program to the middle and elementary schools in the coming school year depends on raising more money for the endowment.
“Our ability to expand depends on the size of the endowment and the amount of money it can generate,” Miller said.
The endowment generates about 3.5 percent interest annually, which is what is used for the grants.
She said the committee is using a three-prong approach to raising additional funds:
-- Using media -- both social media and traditional media such as newspapers -- to reach alumni, parents and teachers.
-- Appealing to other Mid- Prairie classes timed with five-and 10-year reunions.
-- Running a major donor campaign.
“It’s a big job to put all of this together,” Miller said.
Following the presentation to the school board, the steering committee met to develop a strategy for raising the money.
“We are going to exit and to figure out how to raise this money,” Miller said.