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Press Release

North Dakota School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said Tuesday that elementary schools in Wyndmere and Beach have been awarded $15,208 for innovative education projects.

Wyndmere Elementary, in Richland County in North Dakota’s southeastern corner, will receive $7,000 for the school’s 5th-grade class to establish a T-shirt printing shop. Its first project will be to outfit all of Wyndmere Elementary’s students with shirts featuring a student-designed school logo. The school has about 150 students in grades K-6.

Beach’s Lincoln Elementary, in Golden Valley County in southwestern North Dakota, is getting $8,208 to design and manufacture displays and projects for the school and the county museum, including a “farming-math game” for students and museum visitors.

The Department of Public Instruction awards a teacher innovation grant to an individual educator every three months. Grants are usually limited to $10,000 per quarter. The two grants were possible because the program had some unused money in reserve, said Taylor Olsen, the program’s administrator.

The grant program is financed by federal COVID-19 emergency relief funds. It began in January 2023 and is set to end in May 2024, when the 10th and final round of grants is awarded. The window for applying for the ninth grant round opens on Jan. 17, and lasts until Jan. 31.

Wyndmere Elementary teacher Kelly Kohoutek, who applied for her school’s grant, said one of the project’s goals is to design a school logo for printing on T-shirts for every student. 

“Once the elementary shirt project is complete, our goal is that we will be asked to make shirts for other organizations and community events,” she said in her application. “We hope that this project will continue to grow into a recurring opportunity for fifth-grade students for years to come.”

She said the project will help students learn life skills, such as budgeting, advertising, marketing, customer relationships, graphic design, and time management. The largest chunk of the grant, about $3,000, will be used to acquire a T-shirt press. Lincoln Elementary has 146 students in grades prekindergarten through 6.

The Beach project envisions buying two 3-D printers, work benches and tables that will be used to create display items for the school and the Golden Valley County museum, said Jessie Schmeling, a Lincoln Elementary teacher who applied for the grant. Among the ideas for 3-D printing are figurines of animals, buildings, and farm machinery for an interactive farming display at the museum, as well as pieces for math and farming games.

Schmeling said in her application that she expects the project will expand students’ knowledge, “their sense of belonging to the community and creativity … We also expect this project to increase visitors and community involvement with our museum.”

One advantage of 3-D printing is that it can be used to create museum pieces that students can touch and play with, she said. 

“We want to have the students create their own museum display that is child friendly,” she said in her application. “This display would allow children to interact with objects related to Golden Valley County history and current agricultural activity that occurs within our community.”

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