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Programs Funded

2021-2022 Grant Descriptions

Afterschool Robotics Program; VEX STEM Labs

Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education, with the support of building principals, are expanding the Afterschool Robotics Program to Pine Meadow Primary School for Grades 1-2 and to Oak Ridge Early Learning Center PreK-Kindergarten. This grant allows the purchase of kits to accommodate up to 20 students per lab. (VEX 123 curriculum for ORELC and VEX Go for PMPS).  Children learn with their senses and robotics aligns more naturally with the active, hands-on development of a PK-2 grade student. Robotics challenges offer students opportunities in all forms of socialization, including listening, and evaluating alternate perspectives, as well as, providing exciting opportunities to build and express imagination. Also, there is an authenticity of purpose to apply mathematical concepts to real-world experiences. Students work in teams and develop leadership skills through the process of building, programming, and driving robots.


Furthering Fine Motor in First Grade

With the increase of screen time and distance learning, the need for fine motor development is becoming more alarming. First grade teachers are seeing more students with the inability to hold the pencil correctly, form letters and have the coordination and strength necessary for daily fine motor tasks. Fine motor skills are used not only in school tasks such as writing, drawing and cutting but also in everyday tasks such as zipping, buttoning, eating and shoe tying. Motor skills directly impact student’s academic performance, memory and physical functioning. Underdeveloped fine motor skills can lead to various issues as students do not develop their core muscles. The tools purchased with the grant provide additional sensory and tactile input that can be used in daily lessons, word work, spelling and handwriting time to accommodate various styles and levels of learners. Helping students improve their writing skills will boost their self-confidence which will impact how they perceive themselves and grow into successful leaders. Providing multi-sensory handwriting strategies and using fine motor development tools from this initiative will be critical in helping all students achieve success in academic and everyday life tasks.

Outdoor Learning Enhancement for Early Childhood

We want our students to have more Outdoor Learning experiences. Research has demonstrated that children need more active/cooperative motor time built into their day. It is essential for children have time allocated for outdoor activities as well as the opportunity to explore the natural environment around their school campus.  This grant will allow the purchase of materials for the SHS construction class to build a shed that will store items like balls, tricycles, obstacle course materials, sensory materials, clipboards, writing utensils, magnifying glasses, binoculars, mini wheelbarrows, basketball hoops, sand/water exploration tools-buckets, molds, scoops, funnels, sifters, etc.  These will enhance children's gross motor development--balance & control, eye-hand coordination, cooperative play opportunities/turn taking, creative/critical thinking, scientific/nature observations as the season change, etc.  In addition to these toys and equipment, they will also be installing a sandbox that includes a cover.


Projection Mapping Equipment


Projection mapping allows artists and designers to layout and design art installations using digital projectors. Students can set up a projector in a space and using digital design software they can draw, paint, animate, add images or movies to surfaces. If you have heard of the moving Van Gogh exhibit at the airport, that is an extreme example of projection mapping. Painting, Drawing and Sculpture students can use projection mapping to add images and animations to their work, and graphic design students can design digital installations for specific sites with dedicated projectors. This type of art is often used at concerts and festivals and it has the potential to grow as an art practice at SHS.  Projection mapping asks young artists to think about how their artwork impacts the audience in their environment. This type of design requires growth in communication, creative thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and innovation.

Real Life Pregnancy Profile Simulator


Students will have the opportunity to wear the Pregnancy Profile Simulators as part of the curriculum that is taught in the Child Development & Psychology course each quarter at the Sartell High School.  These vests help teenagers to understand pregnancy's impact on the body and the included curriculum teaches life goals, finances, relationships and emotions that are related to having a baby in the real world. Users experience 25 to 30-lb. weight gain, elevated body temperature, bladder pressure, fetal movement and difficulty breathing. High school students will be impacted by having a much more real-life experience when learning about pregnancy in the Child Development & Psychology class. It's one thing for students to learn about the physiological changes to a woman's body during pregnancy, and it's another thing to put on a pregnancy vest and actually FEEL it.

SMS Adaptive Music

DCD (Developmental Cognitive Disability) students at the Sartell Middle School have weekly music lessons in their classrooms.  Having an adaptive music program offers an interactive and exploratory music experience for students with unique needs. Students are able to participate in music and movement activities with musical instruments and music manipulatives, adapted to meet their needs. Through music, students will work together kinesthetically, individually and as a group, exploring steady beat and rhythm while strengthening their cognitive and motor skills.  This will also allow the students to participate in a musical program/ performance for families.

Speaker Jesse LeBeau: Leadership Training

Jesse LeBeau is known as the “The Celebrity Teen Coach.” As an author, basketball player, and reality television star, Jesse has become a highly popular motivational speaker. “His unlikely underdog story has inspired millions of teens through his speaking, best-selling books and youth programs. Jesse LeBeau will come to Sartell Middle School to work for a half day with our student council. The day would focus on leadership, school culture, and supporting each other through the hardships we have all experienced over the last year. After the half day of leadership training, Jesse will speak at an assembly for the entire school. Jesse’s message will focus on his tag line “attitude means everything” and he is able to connect with students through his story and his basketball tricks which entertain while providing a great message.


VersaTiles is a self-checking mathematical tool that has been around for over 40 years. It is a hands-on alternative to practice workbooks. VersaTiles combines the challenge of a puzzle with standards-aligned skills practice. Students will gain a better understanding of number relationships by having a visual that they can interact with and manipulate. VersaTiles help students learn place value, how to find unknown partners, skip count, add and subtract, as well as practice word problems. The self-checking system aids in creating a safe learning environment where students are able to gain confidence in their math abilities.

One District One Book

The One District, One Book (ODOB) program is designed to promote literacy and create a shared reading experience across the entire school community.   With the generous support of SSEF, each K-4 family within the Sartell-St. Stephen school district will be provided a copy of the same children’s novel to read together during the month of February.  This provides an excellent opportunity to spark a community-wide conversation around a book with the ultimate goal to inspire a rich appreciation of literature and create lifelong readers.


Past Grant Examples:

One District One Book

The One District, One Book (ODOB) program is designed to promote literacy and create a shared reading experience across the entire school community.   With the generous support of SSEF, each K-4 family within the Sartell-St. Stephen school district was provided a copy of the same children’s novel to read together during the month of February.  This provided an excellent opportunity to spark a community-wide conversation around a book with the ultimate goal to inspire a rich appreciation of literature and create lifelong readers.


During the last two years, the second graders at PME and ORE have been involved in Math SmARTS program, a collaborative project between the Sartell Elementary Schools and the Paramount Visual Arts center to improve students' attitude and proficiency in both math and the arts.


Students visit the Paramount where they work with dance and visual artists.  

The artists also make one visit to each of their classrooms continuing the reinforcement of the skills. 


At the Paramount with the visual artist, students learn about geometric Islamic tiles. They then have an opportunity to create their own tiles which are glazed and fired.  The dance artists reinforces the geometric skills through dance moves creating two and three dimensional shapes, as well as symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes.  The students also enjoy the experience of dancing on the Paramount stage.


During the classroom visits, the visual artists help students create a six pointed star using paper folding and patterning reinforcing geometric shapes.  The dance artist reinforce the skills learned at the Paramount to help the students create a dance. 


The students' experiences in the Math SmARTs program  integrate the art and math curriculum enhancing their understanding of patterning and geometrics.

Click on the image to see a gallery of photos.

STEM Initiative


Within the Sartell Middle School, there are 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who create, develop, test, and conclude their own scientific inquiries.  These students work for several months to plan and complete their science fair projects each year.  This year our middle school sent 15 students to present their research at our local Regional Science Fair at St. Cloud State University on February 21st, 2015.  It is a professional experience where students have the opportunity to explain their experiment and results to several judges.  They also have the opportunity to network with other like-minded science students from other schools.  Several students earned awards, and we were fortunate enough to have five students advance to the MN Academy of Sciences State Fair, which took place on March 20th-22nd in Bloomington, MN.

MN Academy of Sciences State Fair Attendees and Awards


7th Graders:  Janagan Ramanathan and Carter Schumacher earned the Wolfram Research Mathematica Software Middle School Research Award (Project: “Aerodynamics: Effect of Blade Angle on Turbine Voltage Output”)  

8th Graders:  Gillian Orth and Cindy Zhang earned a Minnesota Academy of Science Grand Awards Bronze (Project: “Does Fear Change With Age?”)

8th Grader:   Elizabeth Ruder earned a Minnesota Academy of Science Grand Awards Bronze(Project: “Solar Power Water Desalination”)


Pictured above: Cindy Zhang, Gillian Orth, Elizabeth Ruder, Carter Schumacher, and Janagan Ramanathan

SCSU Central MN Regional Science Fair Attendees and Awards:


Left to Right

Front Row: 7th Graders:   Lydia Anderson and Jaden Nguyen (Merit Award), Janagan Ramanathan and Carter Schumacher (Premium Award), Ella Krauel and Mallory Daniels (Merit Award)

Back Row:  9th Grader:  Madeline Thieschafer (Merit Award)  8th Graders: Elizabeth Ruder (Association for Women Geoscientists Special Award and Premium Award), Gillian Orth and Cindy Zhang (Merit Award on Oral Research Paper Presentation and Premium Award), Jack Hackenmueller (Honorable Mention), Benjamin Kiewel (not pictured) and Jacob Miller (Merit Award), Elijah Lawson (not pictured) and Bennett Hill (Merit Award)

Sartell Middle School Academic Extensions


The goal of the middle school Academic Extensions program is to offer a wide variety of programs and activites in order to serve the needs and interests of all students. There are approximately 30 programs involving students in grades 5-8.  


We Day 2015

Art In Motion


Our latest artist in residency program with Heidi Jueb is complete and being enjoyed in our schools front entry. This collaborative metal welcome art piece was handmade from start to finish and utilized recycled materials, photos taken from students in school, welded panels, laser images created on a printer loaned from SCSU as an extension to the STEM program at the high school. This was funded by Central Minnesota Arts Board and is part of the Art In Motion program. Jueb led the project with approximately 80 students in conjunction with three classes in Photography, Multimedia and Metals fabrication along with teachers Joe Schulte, Nick Phillips, Angela Heckman and Jess Boline. 


We are also working on completing a ceramic bird installation with the artclub and metal fabrication students. Watch for this cool addition soon!

Family Library Story Hour


The Family Library Story Hour takes place at the District Service Center twice per month with approximately 15 children in attendance. During the sessions, children as young as 9 months up to 5 years participate with their parents or caregivers.


The session begins with children gathering in the comfort of their parents' laps singing a welcoming song and other music and movement songs that coincide with the book(s) and theme of the day. The parents also receive copies of lyrics so they can repeat and extend their child's learning at home. Parents and children listen as a licensed Early Childhood Teacher reads stories and shares methods that focus on the foundation of literacy skills that are needed to become a successful reader. Research has demonstrated that the key literacy areas include: 1. Narrative Skills, 2.Letter Knowledge, 3. Print Awareness, 4. Vocabulary, 5. Print Motivation, and 6.Phonological Awareness. 


The second half the session is parent-child interaction/activity time. Parents help enhance their child's literacy skills by working on specifically designed literacy based activities. Finally, parents and children check out a library book to enjoy at home. 


Over the past several months, parents have been able to meet other parents, gain support, build connections and develop relationships with other families in the district. "We are thankful for the SSEF for their support in making our Sartell community stronger through this educational endeavor" states Mrs. Larsen who is pictured above.

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