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Student Led Book Club

This past year, SSEF awarded a grant to Language Arts teacher, Terri Benson, on behalf of the students at the Sartell High School.  Students have come together to start a book club before the school day.  The students select the books, while adhering to the district book purchase policy, and they then have in depth discussions about what they read.  Terri Benson has this to say about the book club:

"What started out as a simple idea from a few students, blossomed into a group that met 1-2 times a month just to talk about books!  Evey month there was a new member, and even staff members have asked to join! The excitement and motivation is due largely in part to the grant money SSEF gifted us. Whenever I received the new book, I’d send out a message to the club, and all copies would be gone before I left for the day! They literally would run down to get their new book!  Who doesn’t love getting a new book in the mail?!! And, as soon as they finished the book, they would message the rest of the group to see if anyone needed to borrow their copy.  It was great teamwork.  

Also, thanks to the SSEF donation, there is now a bookshelf in my classroom dedicated to these sets of books that students can read in small groups for English classes. We hope to continue this!  In fact, there are some current juniors who have already met to make this club “bigger and better” next year!  

The students in book club put together this video to say THANK YOU!  I hope you enjoy!"

Early Learning Grant Update

We are excited to share an update about the SSEF supported complementing grants at SHS and ORELC.  Early Childhood Teacher, Kim Larsen, was awarded a SSEF grant last year that benefits our district's youngest learners.


She writes, "The children are enjoying the new giant sandbox and materials, two basketball hoops and balls. This amazing storage shed built by our high school students, was delivered to ORELC over the summer and the children (and teachers) have already been utilizing the space and materials to do many outdoor learning activities. This fall we look forward to raking leaves and putting them in our two child sized wheelbarrows. In winter, we will look forward to shoveling and scooping as well as using forms for snow sculptures. THANK YOU again for your generous donation for our outdoor learning grant for our youngest learners. The classroom must extend beyond our four walls and into the beautiful outdoors! Thank you for helping us create more opportunities for our children"

SHS SabreCON Class Builds ORELC a Shed

This past year, SSEF supported complementing grants at two of our buildings. Oak Ridge needed a shed to store outdoor learning equipment. High schoolers had hands-on learning experience in building this shed and were supported by SSEF in the necessary tools and equipment to support the build. The synergy of matching an opportunity for learning and meeting a district need was able to happen because of SSEF support.

"Opportunities like this for the SSEF to provide raw materials to my construction class to build something of value for our school and community are truly win/win/win.  My crew are products of ORE and enjoyed paying it back a bit on this project.  -Have fun on the playground!”  -Joe Schulte, Technology Education Teacher

Brian Donnay of BD Exteriors is pictured below, instructing our SabreCON 1 students on how to properly install siding. BD Exteriors donated the steel siding for this project, allowing the structure to stay within the dollars donated by the SSEF despite unprecedented increases in building material prices.

Hands-On Learning Grant for Child Development & Psychology

High school teacher, Julie Gohman, applied for a SSEF grant last fall and was awarded $500 to purchase additional supplies for her Child Development & Psychology class. Here is what she had to say about how the supplies have impacted her class.

With these funds that SSEF provided I was able to purchase Legos, Mega-Bloks, wooden blocks, puzzles, Lincoln Logs, Art supplies, magnetic tiles, kinetic sand, puzzles, and books about social and emotional development. When I teach a lesson about the development of children ages one to three, my students have the opportunity to learn about how wooden blocks, Lincoln Logs, and other toys help children develop their fine motor skills and learn how to play cooperatively with other children. 

When I teach a lesson about social and emotional learning, my students have the opportunity to read children’s books that help children deal with their worries, fears, and gives them tools and strategies to stay calm, develop emotional awareness, and act appropriately.

When we are learning about the intellectual development of children, my students now have the hand-on opportunities to understand how puzzles, Legos, magnetic tiles, and other toys help foster cognition and contribute to healthy brain development. 

These items, made possible by SSEF, are used throughout the course, and greatly increase the engagement and achievement of the high school students. In addition, they enjoy learning - it’s a win-win situation for everyone. As a teacher, it is so gratifying to see students engaged, motivated, and happy to be in class learning with their classmates.

Thank you for seeing the value and benefit of these hands-on learning experiences for our students, and for being willing to invest in the supplies to make it happen!

Julie Gohman
FCS Teacher


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