The classroom is much different today than what you and I remember. The days of blackboards and rows of desks are gone as teachers have a ball trying new techniques to reach different types of learners.
"I have implemented stability balls as chairs in my classroom," said Abby Ryan, Emerson Elementary School teacher and Venture Grant recipient.
"When we have too much energy, Ms. Ryan tells us to just bounce on them so we get all of the energy out," said Matthew Escher, Ms. Ryan's former student.
"I also received a grant for reading comprehension board games...," said Ryan. "...The last grant that I received is for digital voice recorders. And that's specifically aimed for the students to read into the digital voice recorders to hear themselves."
The grants that Ms. Ryan is referring to were awarded to her by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.
"Really it's the safety net for our schools and the safety net for so many kids to provide the kind of exceptional learning opportunities that the normal school budget simply couldn't afford to do," said Jerry Kember, La Crosse School District superintendent.
The La Crosse Public Education Foundation was created 23 years ago to serve the La Crosse School District. This year they will hand out $43,000 in classroom grants to teachers, $3,000 for staff development, and another $20,000 to the school district for its essentials fund, which provides things to students like eye glasses, field trip costs and college entrance exam fees.
"With the economy the way it is that essentials for student learning and achievement fund is going to grow because people are going through tough times financially," said Geva Thole, La Crosse Public Education Foundation executive director, "and we want all kids to be able to receive a good solid public education."
The foundation is made up of no more than 20 people including teachers, parents and community members. The foundation members raise money throughout the year by seeking support from the community and the teachers themselves as they understand the importance of private funding.
"Differentiation and really focusing on the individual learner is what teachers are focusing on right now," said Ryan. "And it is difficult because of things like budget cuts or lack of funds. And venture grants and the La Crosse Pubic Education Foundation provide wonderful ways that teachers can really meet their goals and helping every child learn."
"The needs for foundations are growing and they're popping up all over the state," said Thole. "Everyone knows that private funding is going to have to be part of the solution to make sure our kids are well educated for our future."
And to make sure our kids are getting the best education they can, the La Crosse Public Education Foundation will continue to fund innovative ideas that have never been done before in the district.
"The excitement that they have over reading into a little device... And you would think that it's not a big deal," said Ryan. "But really technology and board games and different chairs and all of these wonderful ideas that teachers come up with... the excitement level of the students just rise and it's so fun to see their enthusiasm."
"We know teachers are full of great ideas and ready to implement," said Thole. "So, we just hope we can provide enough funding to make all those ideas happen."