Spring 2018 Grants

7 Grants range from cutting-edge student health and wellness to giant maps

Award recipients this spring include a unique event celebrating the culture of the indigenous peoples represented in the Hopkins Public Schools community; an after school Latin Dance Club at Hopkins High School – open to North and West Junior Highs students as well; and a start-up grant that expands upon HEF’s ongoing investment in Student Wellness=Student Success.

Since 1995, HEF has awarded 416 grants totaling more than $2.6 million to Hopkins schools. Each grant engages Hopkins Public School students through enriching educational experiences. You can see all of our grants by school, by curriculum area, or by year awarded.

Let’s Learn About Our Amazing Bodies — $4,186 — Preschool and Early Childhood Programs — Ann Aenestad, Kim Groenke, Lucy Lyons, Kathy Willett

Preschoolers are naturally curious about how their bodies work (“Where does my food go when I eat? What are muscles? Why do I have bones?”) and these new hands-on learning materials will provide a fun, exciting way to get those questions answered. Students will gain an understanding of (and accurate terminology for) digestion, the cardio-vascular system, the brain and skeletal system. They’ll also learn simple, meaningful ways to keep their bodies healthy – such as the value of exercise and good food choices. Interactive body puzzles and take-apart models, kits for exploring the five senses, human X-rays, games, even model skeletons – will teach the functions of the major organs and systems. Clear, simple explanations and hands-on materials, guided by their teachers, will have students understanding how wondrous they really are, and the importance of taking care of their amazing bodies.


Take Charge of How You Feel — $8,280 — North & West Junior Highs — Jane Kleinman, Eileen Egge, Brian Huybrecht

In alignment with HEF’s focus on Student Health=Student Wellness, this start-up grant provides ALL Hopkins Junior High 8th grade students – more than 500 per year – with the self-regulating tools they would typically only be exposed to through mental health professionals or sports psychologists. In their PE and Wellness classroom, students will receive and learn to use ear sensors along with the free iPad/iPhone ‘App’ called HeartMath Inner Balance. These tools accompany the Smart Brain/Wise Heart Curriculum to provide self-monitoring and feedback. Class time will be used for training and education to help students get their heart rates, minds and emotions in sync. 8th grade is a challenging age for students, and an important time to arm them with the self-knowledge these tools will provide. Students will learn to neutralize stressful reactions, quiet the mind and still restless thoughts, build resilience and faster recovery from stress, and even improve coordination and reaction time in sports. Students will see their progress over the entire year as compared to their baseline at the beginning of the year, completing the feedback loop, and setting them on a positive path to overcome the stressors of high school.


Celebrating Indigenous Stories in Our Community — $1,700 — District Wide — Allegra Smisek

All students and their families are warmly invited to the inaugural ‘Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Fair’ at Hopkins High School on Saturday, May 19 from 12-3 pm. HEF’s grant will assist the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee to host this celebration of the native cultures represented by Hopkins students. Students will be encouraged to collect stamps in a ‘learning passport’ from several experiential learning opportunities. Activities will include the history behind the game of lacrosse and a mini lesson, the creation of an Ojibwa Bandolier bag, and many others. Students can turn in their ‘passport’ for an age-appropriate book from acclaimed Native authors, purchased from Birchbark Books, the South Minneapolis Native bookstore owned by acclaimed author Louise Erdich. Participants will have a chance to build connections and community while celebrating Minnesota’s indigenous peoples and heritage. As part of the grant, these books will also be purchased as permanent additions to the Hopkins school libraries.


¡A Bailar! Latin Dance Club — $1,200 — Hopkins High School, North & West Junior High Schools — Tim Owen

Salsa! Merengue! Cumbia! HEF will fund a residency conducted by professional Latin dancers Yeniel Chini Perez and Hanna Kuluvar Esparza. They will teach some of the most popular dances of the Spanish-speaking world in this after school club. ¡A Bailar!, open to all HHS, NJH and WJH students, embraces diversity, dance, music, fun and great exercise, as it promotes inclusivity and celebrates the Hispanic culture. One dance will be taught at a time, to allow for more students to flow in and out of the club as their schedules allow, potentially reaching hundreds of students with this exciting endeavor. This non-traditional club can bring together students that do not normally interact with one another outside of the school day. At the conclusion of each semester, students will have the opportunity to perform together for their classmates in the mall area of HHS.


Giant Maps: Sitting on Top of the World — $3,175 — K-6 District Wide — Allegra Smisek

Short of viewing Earth from space, National Geographic’s Giant Maps are the most exciting way for students to explore their world in realistic scale to develop a global understanding of its size and scope. This HEF grant will purchase two permanent vinyl maps: a 20’ x 26’ North American map, and a 17’ x 21’ Minnesota map. As the maps travel from school to school, elementary students will be able to walk on and ‘sit in’ these maps as they immerse in physical and human geography, algebra, geometry, climate, and more. This hands-on opportunity is an innovative way to engage students with a multitude of learning styles and to expand spatial thinking. Limitless lesson plans are available from National Geographic, and this grant includes a half-day of teacher training from Jessica Winkelaar, formerly of the MN Alliance for Geographic Education and currently a professor at UW, River Falls. A year ago, a Giant MN Map was on a short loan to Glen Lake and Gatewood, and was a big success. These permanent additions to the Hopkins social studies curriculum will enhance and excite student learning – over multiple grade levels – for years to come.


Experiential Language Learning — $3,900 — Gatewood- K-6 Links to Learning — Kristina Melsen, Stacy MacBlane-Meyer, Abbie Miklos, Erikka Schimelpfenig

Links to Learning, a special education program located at Gatewood Elementary, serves our students with severe cognitive disabilities. Many are non-verbal and lack the functional communication skills to convey their needs, wants, health and safety information, or to successfully participate in academic and social tasks. Imagine yourself in this frustrating situation and notice the vital role communication plays in your every interaction. These inspiring Hopkins teachers and speech pathologist have done just that, and rather than become stumped by the limited curriculum available, are instead creating a practice-based curriculum focused on core vocabulary. This HEF grant provides the tools needed for this curriculum: a library of engaging materials to foster active and enthusiastic learning through hands-on activities, and to provide the repetition needed to enhance core skills and vocabulary. These activities will be structured to align with the communication goals for the students, as well as help them increase their self-help skills, reading, writing, and math tasks.


Game On! Social Emotional Learning Through Board Games — $1,020 — Glen Lake K-6 — Thomas Reger, Paul Spreitzer, Anne McGraw, Katherine Whitnah

Modeled after the popular Chess Club, the Board Game Club will provide fun, challenging student interaction – no electronics allowed! This HEF grant will stock the club with a wide variety of games, including something sure to interest any student. As students meet once per week for an hour before school (specific day TBA) unique learning opportunities will present themselves while they play and chat across multiple grade levels; perhaps with those they have never met. They’ll develop sportsmanship, camaraderie, and find a safe place to practice social-emotional learning and problem-solving skills. Game-playing can also teach a host of other life lessons including patience, assertiveness, good sportsmanship and eye contact. Each quarter, with the help of the parent volunteers, the club will focus on a specific theme such as interpreting body language and tone, or on using appropriate communication. In this age of electronics and personal devices, the Board Game Club offers a reprieve from isolated play in the form of good old (and new) fashioned board games.

We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Our tax id is 41-1808042.