The Blue Valley Educational Foundation presented the Blue Valley School District with $479,000 worth of teacher and building grants, the largest in the organization’s history.
Unsuspecting schools and staff were presented with the grants foundation’s “Surprise Squad Kick-off” event earlier this month.
For the event, Blue Valley superintendent Tonya Merrigan, along with representatives from the foundation, went around to different schools in the district to announce how much each site had received.
Building and district-wide programs
With the grant money, each school within Blue Valley received a $5,000 grant to go towards building and district-wide programs.
“Every administrator was given the opportunity to write a grant that specifically supported the needs of their building and programs,” said Joy Ginsburg, Blue Valley Education Foundation executive director.
This money is to be spent on the district’s CORE4 Initiative, which was put in place to promote healthy culture and climate, data and assessment, instruction and intervention and professional learning communities in Blue Valley.
Some examples of what this money could be spent on are providing classroom materials to teachers and students, as well as giving supplies or reinforcements for classrooms in the district.
Competitive teacher program
Almost $140,000 of the grant money presented also went towards a competitive teacher grant opportunity, in which teachers applied to receive the money for their classroom needs.
Over 80 of those who applied were approved for funds by the foundation.
Some teachers applied for funds in order to pay for new supplies for their classrooms, such as new books and even a 3D printer.
Ginsburg said every teacher had the opportunity to apply for up to $2,000 per classroom.
Suicide prevention and mental wellness programs
$57,000 worth of grants went to suicide prevention and mental health and wellness programs within Blue Valley.
With this money, Sources of Strength, a suicide prevention program that originated in North Dakota in the 1990s, will be implemented in all middle and high schools in the district.
Additionally, a portion of these grants will be put towards #GiveMe20, a program for the district’s 8th and 10th graders.
#GiveMe20 was started by husband-wife duo Nathan and Sylvia Harrell. The program teaches coping mechanisms to teens who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Money from the grants will also help start a brand new Wellness Walk, which is set to be installed at the district’s Wilderness Science Center soon.
“We are thrilled to be able to help out every school,” Ginsburg said.
Career Ready Educational programs
The grants are also being used for $62,000 worth for the district’s Career Ready Educational programs.
With this money, a total of 69 Blue Valley students will partake in the Johnson County Community College Career Tech Ed program with no out of pocket expenses.
The program teaches students learn hands-on skills in areas such as automation engineer technology and plumbing certification, preparing them for life after high school.