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LPOSD teachers receive more than $100,000 in grants

Staff Writer | May 29, 2022 1:00 AM

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SANDPOINT — Panhandle Alliance For Education gave more than 40 grants to teachers of the Lake Pend Oreille School District that totaled nearly $111,000.

PAFE announced the grants at its annual teacher grant-awarding celebration on Wednesday. This celebration, which has been held since 2003, has seen more than 800 grants awarded, totaling more than $2,000,000.

PAFE is an organization made of teachers, parents, and businesses that support and promote “excellence in education ” through strategic programs for students and resources to aid teachers with funding and various instructional coaches.

This organization is responsible for funding programs in schools, such as the counseling center at Sandpoint High School, paying a portion of the salaries of those involved for the first three years until a levy took over, and funding teacher-initiated programs and projects with “teacher grants.” Such is the case with Megan Hoffmeister, an English teacher at SHS.

Hoffmeister, who applied for a grant to purchase graphic novels of all the texts read in her Strategic English class, was among those receiving a grant Wednesday. The graphic novels will allow students with individualized education plans and lower reading scores to read the same novels as their peers and improve reading levels overall, something Hoffmeister said she has already seen being beneficial with the few graphic novels already in her classroom.

“A student with an IEP can be offered that graphic novel that they can read alongside their classmates so that they're reading the same text, it's just at a level that is meeting their needs,” Hoffmeister said.

Teacher grants are awarded annually to teachers who apply based on a point system and evaluation. The evaluation process awards points based on criteria such as student involvement, and overall goal. Those receiving PAFE grants are able to reapply every year and with them come discussions to fund those grants permanently, as was the case with the Read with Lucky program which is now a part of the PAFE early literacy program.

While all of the programs and projects that receive grants are geared toward bettering and introducing new education to students, not all teacher grants are for specific schools or classes.

Barbie Hunt, another PAFE teacher grant 2022 recipient, applied for a teacher grant to fund the Pend Oreille Water Festival 2023. The annual event brings together all LPOSD fifth-grade students to be guided by SHS students and local professionals. The event features educational activities to teach the fifth graders about water resources and how to protect and appreciate them.

While organizations like it are not rare, not every community has an organization like PAFE, whose sole purpose is to support the education of LPOSD students by supporting teachers and students. LPOSD superintendent Tom Albertson told those gathered that he and the district are grateful for the support PAFE gives exclusively to LPOSD as not every community has one similar.

“One of the biggest joys I've had is regionally being able to talk to other educators throughout the state and regionally about the support that Lake Pend Oreille School District gets from a group like Panhandle Alliance for Education and it is not to be taken for granted because it is not everywhere,” Albertson said.

The superintendent also spoke of the importance of PAFE and all teacher grants as they allow students to explore new avenues in many subjects from nuclear science to integrating music with physical education.

“Students need to be engaged, they need to be excited about learning. And these grants do that,” Albertson said.