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Empowering Education in the Classroom

Classroom Innovation Grants - Students and Teachers

Educators continually look for fresh and meaningful approaches to enhance student learning. Many teachers go above and beyond, reaching into their pockets to enrich their students' educational experiences. Yet, the expenses of purchasing materials lead some educators to drop initiatives that seem financially out of reach within the classroom. Fortunately, this is where the Special Education Foundation (SEF) steps in with our Classroom Innovation Grants program.

Anna Shreves and Jessica Poddig of Neuwoehner School were co-applicants are grant recipients for their Student Lounge project. The purpose of the Student Lounge is to provide a dedicated space for students to work or to spend time in a calm environment, outside of their regular classroom. The intention for the space is to be both functional and comfortable. It is designed to be utilized in a variety of ways such as student meetings, alternative workspace, and relaxing outside of the classroom. The items requested helped to develop the space with a variety of sensory items for a wide range of students to access.

Shreves and Poddig analyzed the results by providing a Google Survey at the end of the 2022-23 school year. Results indicated that 80% of classrooms at Neuwoehner accessed the Student Lounge at some point. 25% of those classes visited the Student Lounge daily. The Lounge was mostly used for leisure and relaxation throughout the school day.

Other uses included group sessions or meetings for students to work together such as Student Council, alternative work/teaching spaces, or for students to hang out to talk or play games to build relationships with one another. Some classes also used this space to build work skills as they cleaned and organized the space. Teachers reported that the students enjoyed the alternate seating options, they had access to fidgets, manipulatives, and coloring, and a great place for students to do jobs, relax, and chill out when it gets too much in class.

This grant awarded to Shreves and Poddig was one of 92 grants awarded last year. SEF funded nearly $65,000 in projects for Special School District teachers across St. Louis County.    

Applications for Classroom Innovation Grants can be submitted through December 15. Visit our website to learn more about this program and the criteria for the selection process.