Students at Downers Grove Elementary engage in STEM learning. Illinois Conference Associate Superintendent Katrina Baun says teachers are already planning how to utilize these funds, which could include: additional teaching staff, teacher aides, playground equipment, outdoor classrooms, STEAM labs, gardening/agricultural education and transportation for field trips. | Photo credit: Sandra Mendez
The Illinois Conference Education Department initial application for a Community Partnership Grant requested $100,000 to continue offering a school psychologist for the next two years. To their surprise, they were awarded $635,000.
"I am so happy that because of this funding we can continue to offer mental health services with a school psychologist,” says Lori Aguilera, Illinois Conference superintendent, “and that I can continue to provide special education services to all the students in the Illinois Conference."
The grant was funded through the federal government’s American Rescue Plan for Covid-19 relief, and its purpose is to reduce stress and address students’ emotional and mental health as it relates to the pandemic and all the school disruptions.
Illinois Conference President Ron Aguilera says, "What a blessing to support our Illinois Conference schools in the areas of mental health, special education, and other support like aides and classroom materials."
Illinois Conference Associate Superintendent Katrina Baun says teachers are already planning how to utilize these funds, which could include: additional teaching staff, teacher aides, playground equipment, outdoor classrooms, STEAM labs, gardening/agricultural education, transportation for field trips, and even gym memberships for all the teachers. “As you can see, almost anything to reduce the stress for teachers and students can be obtained with this grant,” Baun says.
She further states that they’re continuing to evaluate use of the funds but in the meantime they’re grateful for God’s provisions. “These funds will be a great blessing to our teachers and students here in the Illinois Conference.”
Illinois is a recognized leader in seeking grants to strengthen its mission. Last year, the Herald reported on an Illinois program which provides a school psychologist for all its schools. Linda Fuchs, Lake Union Education Director, has invited Superintendent Lori Aguilera to conduct a seminar on grant writing tips for other Lake Union superintendents. In speaking about the grant, Fuchs says, “I am happy to see the urgent needs of our children addressed, and ways in which we can continue to provide a supportive environment for our students learning and well being.”
For more information about Illinois Conference schools, please visit their website.
Debbie Michel serves as the Lake Union Communication Director and Lake Union Herald editor.