Grants galore for Chamberlain School District

An afterschool program in Chamberlain that allows students to learn beyond the regular school day is gaining interest, leading the school district to land thousands of dollars in grant money.

An afterschool program in Chamberlain that allows students to learn beyond the regular school day is gaining interest, leading the school district to land thousands of dollars in grant money.

For the past 10 years, the Chamberlain School District has received $100,000 per year through the 21st Century Community Learning Center for their afterschool program called PAWS. According to Superintendent Debra Johnson, the main focus of the program is to allow students to learn beyond the school day, and provide a friendly environment.

"It's a place for (students) after school to feel safe and happy and one that will provide them with positive self esteem and friendships," Johnson said.

This year, the school requested a total of $150,000 per year for five years, Johnson said, because of growing enrollment numbers.

More than 240 children are enrolled in the afterschool program, Johnson said, with at least 150 to 160 students coming daily. The program runs from 3:30 to 5 p.m. during the school year and for nine weeks into the summer from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


And the grant is one example of how Chamberlain School District is capitalizing on many opportunities for grant dollars.

The district also received two Classroom Innovation grants through the South Dakota Department of Education, totalling roughly $88,000.

Chamberlain was one of 48 applications for the grant money, receiving not just one but two awards. They were the only school out of 17 to get two grants from the DOE.

Both of the grants, according to Johnson, were teacher-led after she sent out a school-wide email to the staff informing them about the grant applications.

Two groups of teachers took up the challenge. One was for the third-grade classes in Chamberlain, put together by Kim Phillips, and her team of teachers.

This innovation grant awarded Phillips and her team a total of $34,358 for three years. With the money, the district will buy chromebooks for each third-grader in the Chamberlain School District.

With the new technology, Phillips hopes to develop a more student-centered way of teaching. Phillips said they will focus on math and the new technology will help differentiate the way the teachers teach it. They want the chromebooks to not be an add-on, but "be integrating into the curriculum we are using."

"We don't want to reinvent the wheel, we want to enhance what we are currently doing," Phillips said.


She plans to use more apps and extensions to enrich the math experience, making it more engaging for her third graders.

With the new technology, Phillips hopes students will increase their ability level in math and other subjects, but also have the opportunity to learn about responsibility.

"It's more student centered. We want kids to take ownership in their learning," she said. "They are there to learn and they need to take ownership of that and be less teacher-centered and more student-centered."

The second innovation grant was formed by a team of middle school teachers. With a total of $54,000 awarded in grant money, Johnson said these teachers are planning to purchase iPads to integrate into their classrooms. With the additional technology, Johnson said the teachers will "implement blended learning into content areas" at the middle school.

Johnson said the work of the teachers in the middle school will increase student motivation, ownership in their learning, increase test performance and developmental learning skills. But overall, students will be increasing their achievement level.

All three of the grants were awarded to the school district within a week of each other, making for an exciting mid-summer school week, Johnson said.

"This year it all came at once and we found out at once," Johnson said. "We just were very pleased with how it all turned out. It was neat to send out notes and emails to staff that we had received this."

Johnson said the district is not new to receiving grants, but to receive two innovation grants was exciting and will have a big impact for their students and for the future of learning.


With 900 students in the district, Johnson said the two innovation grants alone will benefit at least 200 students directly.

"It's just really will impact our students a lot in a very positive way with the technology and the teachers they have working with their grants really care about their students and their learning," she said. "Our teachers have stepped up and done a nice job."

Related Topics: EDUCATION
What To Read Next
Members Only
“In our industry there aren’t a lot of young people in it. I like the fact that there are a lot of young people in agriculture here,” he said of the Mitchell area.
Members Only
After the departure of longtime superintendent Marje Kaiser and the hiring of Dan Trefz, who recently resigned, advocates say the specialty school needs help from lawmakers to reach its past heights.
Over the past year, the city has been mulling over bringing a secondary water source to Mitchell – a move Mayor Bob Everson said is aimed at positioning the city to grow.
At issue was the attendance at a legislative conference in Hawaii last December by Spencer Gosch and Jamie Smith.