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To date, we have awarded more than $86,000 for innovative projects in our River Falls public schools! With your generous donations, future grant disbursements can continue to fund the ideas that are rolling in. Below are this year's grant recipients:


Teacher Recipient: Rita Thorson

Research has suggested growing benefits in standing while working.  Imagine middle school students that need to move, even without conditions of ADHD, where movement is critical.   Standing while working is physically beneficial for anyone, especially middle school people.  Mr. Stapleton and students have collaborated on this project by creating a prototype standing desk with specifications for Middle School students.  The middle school students will know these desks have been created by our very own Academy students, who took pride in creating something for their community. Amount awarded: $2,000.


Teacher Recipient: Dana Zimmerman

Just imagine for one minute watching your classmates experience the climbing wall at UW-River Falls and not being able to participate.  Having adapted physical education is important to any student that can experience that feeling of empowerment that will come from the experience of ascending and descending a climbing wall for the first time on their own.  Special harnesses and additional climbing equipment will make this happen.  Amount awarded: $1,000.


Teacher Recipient: Olin Morrison

A challenge course is a number of different physical structures that require individuals and groups to think critically, problem-solve, communicate, and collaborate in order to complete a given challenge. This course would support the development of students’ character and provide them with opportunities to extend their comfort zones and stretch the boundaries of what they know and can do.  This course will be a permanent structure so that RFSD students, educator or coaches will be able to benefit from this course for years to come.   Amount awarded: $3,000.


Teacher Recipient: Jennifer Peterson 

Building Tomorrow’s Leaders…today! This vision is a collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce River Falls to develop leadership qualities and opportunities for community engagement with 8th grade students. Leadership River Falls Youth will provide a comprehensive learning experience that fosters personal growth and cultivates community leadership.  Participants will develop skills, knowledge and deepened understanding of self and the contexts in which one lives and grows, through an exploration of community issues, personal values and avenues of involvement.   Amount awarded: $1,550.


Teacher Recipients: Joseph Coughlin and Mike Fuller

The Smart Music program is already implemented in our Middle School, but on a limited basis.  This grant will allow for the purchase of concert and jazz band literature for use with the Smart Music system.  By adding smart music compatible with concert and jazz pieces to the library, middle school band students will have exposure to various genres, cultures and styles of music.  The technology promotes personalized learning as each student is able to identify their own specific areas needing improvement and can then use the tempo adjustments, practice loops and playback of their actual performance to grow in their ability to play the music.  This will lead to improved skill and performance of the ensembles as a whole. Amount awarded: $500.



Teacher Recipient: Sue Popelka


Mrs. Popelka’s idea is to teach students about 3-dimensional mathematics by building models on a 3D printer.  Once complete, students can actually hold the object in their hands and better understand its mathematical properties. Students will have an opportunity to use mathematics to create, gaining hands-on experience with technology they will see in college and in the workplace.  Amount awarded: $2,450.


Teacher Recipient: Kristi Graetz



This curriculum will allow 9th grade students to work collaboratively with open ended problem solving activities in a context that makes it fun and engaging to learn science, technology, engineering and math!  Funding allowed for a program that provides ideas for building multiple robots that will require students to build a final project using what they have learned and present to their classmates in an exciting new way. Amount awarded: $4,000.


Teacher Recipients: Toni Velure and Kelyn King 

This grant is inspired by students in Art class and Art Club whom want to learn more about Pottery wheels in Middle School.  The clay unit is the most anticipated unit of the quarter.  It opens up a completely new spectrum of art-making that is exciting and challenging.  Students can learn what it’s like to see an idea in your imagination come to life in form and texture.  The pottery wheels will also allow students to contribute to our community events such as Bowls for Hope and the annual Holiday Sale at Meyer Middle School which all funds go to a local charity.  Amount awarded: $2,700.


Teacher Recipients: Judy Lefeber, Joan Nelson and Jennifer Johansson


Our future is increasingly immersed in technology.  This grant will incorporate within our elementary curriculum an enhancement to the computer programming/coding instruction already in place. The robotic devices for grades 2-5 will give students hands-on learning with computer programming/coding; giving students the opportunity to explore, collaborate and create in a digital medium.  The programmable robots will also be used shared by all elementary schools and will be used for summer school enrichment classes, Family Education Nights and Community Education classes offered after school.  Amount awarded: $2,800.

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