Grant Making – 2020

Because of tremendous support from community members, the foundation was able to award grants in its third year of grant making. Our goal, as always, is to create unforgettable learning experiences for our students.


Josiah Passe – Robotics and Science Department – Jaycees Grant Winner

3-D Printer – The newly developed science standards are moving towards a modeling and engineering approach to learning science. 3D printers will allow students to learn and employ engineering skills to create models that directly demonstrate scientific topics. Using 3D printers will allow students to learn how the skills (like CAD) that they have acquired in the Tech Ed. department are applied across disciplines as their printed designs are connected to scientific concepts. 3D printers will allow for students to express complex ideas and designs in an active, material way. Designs that would be too difficult to create using other materials can be easily produced using 3D printing technology. 

Prototyping is a key step in designing components for the robotics course. Building prototypes of robotic components from wood or aluminum is time-consuming and difficult to create components that are within millimeter precision of proposed designs. 3D printers can quickly produce models that are accurate to within a fraction of a millimeter of the proposed models and designs. Using computers to create and print designs allows them to be easily and quickly modified. For example, the size of an object in a CAD program can be scaled up or down at the click of a button rather than a complete rebuild which would be required with a more traditional metal or wood object. 


Jake Eichten – Bike Fleet

The Physical Education Department offers an Outdoor Recreation class to students in grades 10-12. It is by far our most popular physical education class, with approximately 100 students enrolled annually. The curriculum incorporates a variety of outdoor activities, the majority of which are individual activities, which are a likely source of physical activity for a lifetime. This unique offering gives students the opportunity to participate in a physical education class where team sports and competition are not the focus of the curriculum. Therefore, a lot of non-athletes, who are in greater need of physical activity, take the class. Some of the activities covered in this class include kayaking, archery, golf, disc golf, tennis, in-line skating, and biking. The biking unit is quite popular among the students as they are exposed to a great local resource, the Wobegon Trail. The bikes are also used weekly to transport the class to North Park, where multiple other activities take place, such as frisbee golf and tennis. This project is the epitome of connecting people, resources, and needs to strengthen our community. 


Mike Rien – Welding Helmets

Albany High Schools welding program is in need of money to purchase auto darkening welding helmets. Auto darkening welding helmets are the latest technology in welding personal protective equipment. The helmets will help our students learn how to weld as they might in a future welding profession as well as keep them safe. 


Amy Spohn – YES Network Activities for Grades K-8

YES Network summer and in-school activities are designed to meet the social and emotional needs of students (grades K-12), which are of paramount importance in our changing world. The activities are designed to promote a sense of community and to enhance the soft skills that are absolutely crucial for students’ future relationships, education, and college & career readiness. Those who have participated in the program have all said it was an unforgettable experience. They have learned that they are capable of establishing friendships, working together, and being responsible for others. 

Here are the nuts and bolts of the program: High school students apply for and are hired to be leaders and mentors who organize and facilitate activities for grades K-8. Any student in the district is invited to participate in the activities. During activities, all devices and electronics are turned off/put away as often as possible. Outdoors, movement, creativity, and human interaction are the goals for each activity, and meals or snacks are usually involved — sharing food promotes community! 


Nicole Snoberger – Battle of the Books

This project will create a memorable learning experience for students. In the Battle of the Books program, each team of students is challenged to read a certain number of books on a book list. Books are targeted for students’ particular reading ability. Students meet regularly to compare their notes on each book and practice competing against other teams to answer questions about the books. The questions are formatted so that students need to demonstrate rich comprehension of the stories. The actual competition is facilitated game show style. 

The Battle of the Books program could gain momentum and become something students strive to join in years to come. It is a new way to motivate students to read that provides exposure to a variety of books and genres, is accessible to various reading levels, and involves community members. 


Stacy Meyer – Personalized Learning Opportunities

Data shows that students excel in a personalized learning environment. In order to create a quality personalized learning environment, we need supplies and activities to provide opportunities for individual students to excel on their own learning paths. Currently, kindergarten teachers do not have adequate materials to support meeting the needs of individual students. The funds would be used to purchase age appropriate, standard based learning materials. Each kindergarten classroom will benefit from a set of their own materials, as classes will be working on the same standards at the same time. By choosing the personalized learning path, our kindergarten team will encourage excellence from our students. Personalized learning creates critical thinkers who become problem solvers. 


Kathy Conrad – Science Lab Experience with MS/HS Teachers and Students

Fourth grade students would work with high school students in the high school science labs. Students will have the opportunity to delve into the makeup of cells and the body with instruments not available at the elementary schools. MS/HS students would share scientific lab procedures with 4th graders, as well as assist them in identifying body parts. The first lab would consist of 4th graders looking at their cheek cells under a microscope. The second lab would consist of dissecting fetal pigs. 


Katie Radeke – Safely Supporting the Social/Emotional Needs of Kindergarteners and Preschoolers

Educators are seeing an increase in social/emotional/behavior needs at younger ages. Many children in preschool and kindergarten are demonstrating the inability to manage emotions, self-regulate, and attend to classroom expectations. Our paraprofessionals and special education staff are increasingly working on calming skills, positive redirection, practicing self-direction, and behavior management in order to prepare students to be successful in a school environment. This trend in behavior needs has disrupted learning in the classroom for all students. As we learn more about the effects of trauma on student learning, we are realizing that many more children are working through social and emotional obstacles than ever understood before.

I would like to create a safe and calm space for students who need to work through their emotional needs. The space needs to be physically safe, as well as equipped with resources that can be used to teach these basic coping and self-regulating skills. Books, DVDs, and activities would be used to teach the essential skills. The furniture items would assist in making the space more comfortable and safe. While the resources chosen are geared for EC and K, the space could be used for older students. The Foundation’s mission is supported by encouraging real-life, hands-on learning opportunities that can be taught in small groups or individually with hopes that the students will carry those skills into the classrooms. Having a safe space to work with trusting adults provides unforgettable learning experiences through relationship building and positive interventions.

Grant Making – 2019

Because of tremendous support from community members, the foundation was able to award grants up to $1000 for a total of $5000 in its second year of grant making. Our goal, as always, is to create unforgettable learning experiences for our students.


Becky Boyer and Jody Abraham — Kindergarten

Bee-Bots – This grant made possible a set of Bee-Bots. Bee-Bots are exciting little robots designed for use by children. They teach directionality, sequencing, estimation, and problem solving. In addition to the robots, this grant also made possible the purchase of a variety of mats to use with the Bee-Bots. The mats extend the learning in reading and math while encouraging cooperative learning and problem solving among peers.

Bee-Bots extends the kindergarten curriculum in an innovative manner. Both Becky and Jody recognize the need to facilitate more student-directed problem solving and feel this is an exciting and engaging way to do so. Becky and Jody plan to broaden this learning opportunity to students in other grade levels too, building community and language skills for their young learners while addressing the potential for role models and leadership in older students.


Carole Braschayko – 4th Grade

Albany Jaycees Founding Donor Grant – Community Learning – Carole Braschayko’s 4th graders study entrepreneurship and giving back to the community. To apply this learning, Carole’s students constructed outdoor library spaces that would include “Little Free Libraries” and benches in the Avon and Albany communities. This project allowed the students to have an authentic experience in giving to the community with the hopes that they will continue to serve their community throughout their lives.

The intent of the STEM portion of this project is to give students the opportunity to engage in rich projects that cannot be accomplished within the confines of an elementary classroom, combining elementary students with high school science classrooms utilizing the new high school science facilities.

Construction will take place in collaboration with the high school technical education students, allowing elementary students use of the new high school facilities.

Carole’s hope is students will realize the potential experiences they can have when they get to high school and beyond.


Ross Resley – Music

Drumming ‘Round the World — This grant allowed Ross Resley to expand his classroom’s instrument collection to include new world percussion pieces. By adding these pieces, Mr. Resley can incorporate more student participation into his lessons: every child will have an instrument to use.

Mr. Resley aims to provide his students with a quality music education, but a multicultural one as well. These new instruments allow students to see and experience connections between the music they know and love here in Minnesota and to music people in other countries and cultures know and love. One example of such connection is musical contributions of Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities.

Mr. Resley hopes that his students “have so much fun they don’t realize they are learning.” Handing students a piece of percussion equipment that connects them to another part of the world is one way he accomplishes his goal.


Stephanie Stang – 1st Grade

Flexible Seating – Often classrooms appear rigid and tightly structured. Learners work collaboratively and independently, but are stationary. The classroom allows for little movement. Envision a classroom with a table at standing height, one at floor level with cushions to sit on, rocking chairs, medicine balls, stools, and a variety of other seating options. Students in this environment are also working independently and collaboratively, but some learners are tapping their feet while working at the taller table, a few are using a clipboard as they rock back and forth in their rocker, others are swaying on a wiggle seat while working quietly. Students feel more comfortable in classrooms with choices and options for movement.

Stephanie Stang’s classroom is full of 24 enthusiastic and energetic first graders. Sitting in one place is difficult for young learners. Moving their bodies energizes their brains too. Flexible seating provides opportunities for students to move and recharge their brains.

Mrs. Stang focuses on creating a student-centered classroom. The AAEF mission of offering students rich, challenging, and engaging learning experiences meshes perfectly with flexible seating options.


Cathy Studer – Media Center

STEM: Dash and Dot Robotics – Maker Space activities provide students opportunities to create, think critically, collaborate, and communicate to program robotic devices in the school’s Media Center. All students access the Media Center every week, so making these learning opportunities available in this space enhances learning opportunities for all students, k-5.

As our district’s schools adopt a more personalized learning focus combined with a focus on preparing students to enter a technology rich world, additional Maker Space materials and robots will encourage students to embrace their own learning. Personalized learning then becomes part of their regular educational experience.


Jill Valerius – 3rd Grade

Stop Motion Camera Kits – Stop Motion Camera kits provide students with unforgettable learning experiences and allow students to use world class education technology. Students can produce and direct their own films. They learn how to edit their films by creating settings, characters, and props as well as how to add voiceovers, animations, and other effects. Further, students foster creativity through legos and modeling clay, showcasing their creativity and engineering skills as they create videos.

Videos allow application of learning in all subject areas, whether it be reading, writing, math, art, social studies, etc. Creativity, innovation, and imagination are inherent in this kind of thinking and producing.


Grant Making 2018

The reason for our being: grant making. The foundation awarded its first round of grants less than a year after its inception. From ozobots to octoball, students in the Albany Area Schools were able to take part in unforgettable, engaging learning experiences. One grant made possible a buddy reading program between elementary students and education students at St. Ben’s and St. John’s University; another grant funded Makerspace supplies, which creates hands-on creative ways for students to design, experiment, and invent as they engage in science, engineering, and tinkering.