West Central Education Foundation Board of Directors


Dr. Scott Mattheis, Chair

Shala Eisenbiesz, Treasurer
Deana Larson, Secretary
Kristi Golden, Development Director 

Jesse Fonkert

Rich Hagel

Kim Kramer
Christy Menning
Brad Berens, Ex-officio
Amy Larson, Ex-officio

Leaving a legacy of learning; filling in the gaps


The WCEF is a group of local supporters of West Central formed to partner with students, teachers and administrators to assist with the district’s goal of preparing all students for learning and living in a changing world.

Grants Awarded

What We’re Doing for West Central

Our Board

2019-2020 Innovation in Education Grant Recipients: $6,213.52 in total awarded

  • Janel Merkwan, High School - Award for Math Minds in Motion program to use high school students to tutor middle school students in the area of mathematics. Together they will focus on skills for which the students need extra support. The sessions will be entirely "un-plugged" and student learning and interaction will be entirely offline. The goal for this Peer-to-Peer interaction is to help the younger students succeed and build a strong math foundation.
  • Lesley Wolles, Nancy Shade, Lori Cole, and Rachel Haag, Hartford Elementary, Kindergarten - Award for project "A Playful Approach to Teaching Math in Kindergarten" and purchase of math manipulative to be used in the Boost Up room. A playful and active approach to teaching math will create an opportunity for our students to be deeply engaged in their mathematical learning.
  • Kristie Raasch and Sarah Weber, Humboldt Elementary, 1st Grade - Award to provide funds to purchase leveled readers (fiction and non-fiction) for the 1st Grade classroom to build a leveled book library and increase the students' confidence in their reading skills.
  • Danny Eye, High School - Award for the purchase of 3 electric guitars to complete the classroom and provide additional classroom opportunities for music appreciation classes. The additional instruments will allow for more hands on exploration and support education in sound production, recording, editing, mixing, and mastering. 
  • Laurie Gratz, High School - Award for Sight Reading Factory an online-platformed program that promotes sight singing by analyzing submitted vocal audio. It also provides the ability for the educator to assign, track usage, and progress of the students and their assignments.
  • Sarah Weber, Hartford and Humboldt Elementary - Award for project "Responsive Teaching - Guided Reading" benefiting both elementary schools. Using small groups, educators are able to differentiate and reach students by using different skills and strategies that will support their growth as confident readers. 
  • Jennifer Poulos, High School - Award for a Geriatric Skin Condition Kit which includes 9 Realistic Models including shingles, benign and cancerous lesions, eczema, thinned skin, age spots, and lesions. This unique kit can change a student's educational outlook and commitment to preventative health. 
  • Mackenzie VanderWoude and Sarah Weber, Humboldt Elementary, 2nd Grade - Award for project "Putting Books in All of Our Students Hands" will provide materials to support the students reading skills with appropriate materials tailored to their reading level that will engage and challenge their reading development and build their confidence.

​​2018-19 Innovation in Education Grant Recipients: $4731.55 in total awarded

  • Jennifer Poulos, High School FACS - Award for a human birthing model to provide an in-depth understanding of birth by using a detailed 3-D model. This will allow the students in human development to visually see all 3 stages of birth. Each stage will provide the students with a detailed understanding of how a baby is born. This will also allow the students to have a visually appearance of the fetus prior to birth.
  • Kaci Thomas and Kim Fedeler, Junior Kindergarten - Award for project Let’s Play Learn. This system supports their students by helping build their foundation for reading. The Let’s Play Learn system will expand the district’s options to help students who may have reading difficulties and help build solid reading foundation to better prepare students to succeed in school and life.
  • Danny Eye, High School Instrumental Music - Award for Smart Music Education Software to enhance and support student continued music education through practice tools that give instant feed back and transforms practice from passive repetition to active learning with SmartMusic Software. Students in our marching band, jazz band, and concert band will be able to continue with individual instrumental music lessons.
  • Danny Eye, High School Instrumental Music - Award to purchase electric guitars to provide additional classroom opportunities for music appreciation classes. The additional instruments will allow more hands on exploration and support education in sound production, recording, editing, mixing and mastering. The program is designed to broaden the arts education opportunities of students, to offer musical experiences beyond those of the traditional performing ensembles, and to provide students with real-world applications of technologies currently in use in the music industry.
  • Amber Eberhard, Emily Bunkers, Pam Holloway, Kyndra Brockmueller, Kelsey Bellrichard, 1st Grade - Award will equip our first grade classrooms with the mathematical tools necessary to provide hands-on learning experiences to students, which allows them to visualize and concretize mathematics and fosters important number sense skills. Placing mathematical tools in each student’s hands has proven invaluable in the teaching of mathematics. These new tools will be used on a daily basis as part of math routines, collaborative group work and math instruction.

November 2017 Grant Awarded to West Central School District Winter Symposium: $2,500
The Winter Symposium is an annual development opportunity for West Central staff and teachers from several other school districts. WCEF assisted in securing $2,500 from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation for a total of $5,000 to support this important learning opportunity.

2017-18 Innovation in Education Grant Recipients: $5,074.26 in total awarded

  • Steffani Burwitz, High School Science – Award to support Integrating Environmental, Earth and Physical Sciences using Universe Sandbox2: Computer Simulations in a Chemistry Classroom. Chemistry students will explore the effect of greenhouse gases and rising atmospheric temperatures on Earth’s climate as part of an integrative environmental science unit utilizing Sandbox2.
  • Lynn Margeson, Hartford Elementary Library - Award for Making Our Own Space in an Ever-Changing World. The Library Makerspace will now be available in the Hartford Elementary Library. The star of the new MakerSpace will be CUBELETS, the build your own robot kit. The library is a perfect space to feature Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities.
  • Danann Kistler, West Central Library, Hartford - See It and 3D It! Grant. Students will now be able to scan an item with an iPad and then print it out moments later. Countless career fields are incorporating 3D scanning. The goal is to get students excited about the possibilities and expose them to career options they may have never thought possible.
  • Janel Merkwan, High School - making Personalized Learning Personal. It will prepare students for a more customized classroom learning environment. Through the use of technology, classroom instruction will be available to students inside and outside the classroom by recording lessons, digitalizing math notes, flipping the classroom so that lessons are available at any time. If students are more advanced, they can work ahead or dig deeper into their work, or if a student falls behind, they will have all the necessary resources to catch up and meet the standards set in the classroom.
  • Ellen Nester, Kelssey Bellrichard, Dawn Mielke & Ashlie Jacobs, Elementary K-2 - iLearn with iPads. Need: the K-2 classrooms do not have one student to one device matching. Provides additional iPads, students will be able to advance their technology skills. Through individual apps students strengthen reading and decoding skills to show learning through different presentation avenues. While we were not able to fully fund this grant, it does move the teachers closer to the goal of having one device per student in K-2.
  • Jeff Peterson, High School - Science models to provide a human anatomy model to be used in Human Anatomy and Biology. Funds specifically provide a leg model in an effort to make the West Central model collection more comprehensive.

2016-17 Innovation in Education Grant Recipients: $5,800 in total awarded

  • Ashleigh Johnson and Carolyn Spielman, 2nd Grade, Hartford Elementary - Small Wacom Intuos Pro Pen Tablets that will allow students to work self-paced and self-guided in the classroom.  The initial impact will reach 42 students.
  • Kimberly Graff, Drama, West Central High School - Drama 2 Broadway Production Experience.  This grant will allow students in the Drama 2 class, an advanced elective, to experience a Broadway show, including a meet and greet and a backstage tour.  Drama 2 focuses on the career and other options to continue involvement in the theatrical arts beyond high school. 30 high school students will benefit from this grant.
  • Lesley Wolles, Hartford Elementary - Better Body Balance Builds a Brilliant Brain. This grant will provide additional equipment for the Boost Up program at Hartford Elementary.  Boost Up helps children improve their coordination and balance which helps improve their cognitive function.  The grant will help purchase equipment focused on balance activities and skill building. Approximately 250 students will be part of the initial impact of this grant award.
  • Marylou Nagel, Librarian, Humboldt Elementary - TROBO, the Library STEM Superstar.  This grant supports the purchase of TROBO, a robot who reads to students as they follow along on their iPads.  The robot’s special focus is STEM activities and reinforces problem solving, creativity and teamwork, and offer students more choices and diversity in learning.  The initial impact of this grant will reach more than 400 students.
  • Dani Heitkamp, Kelsey Nincehelser, Sara Stockman, 3rd Grade, Humboldt Elementary -  Unlocking Learning: Breakout EDU, an engaging challenge game that helps students to think critically, problem solve, use strategic planning and implementation, collaborate with peers and possibly students from other grade levels, develop leadership skills, persevere through challenging problems, physically and mentally engage with the content material, get excited about learning, deeply engage with the content, learn in a non-traditional manner.  The initial impact of this grant will affect 100 students.
  • West Central School District - Curtain for the High School Auditorium. The High School Auditorium curtain has seen better days.  However, budget constraints have pushed this update to the back burner for several years.  This grant will assist the district with this much needed facility improvement.

2015-16 Innovation in Education Grant Recipients: $6,000 in total awarded

  • “ARTSONIA PUBLISHING GRANT” AWARDED TO JO MCCARTHY - Showcasing student artwork in the best digital form available. The online art gallery encourages parent and family participation in their child’s art education experience.  West Central’s online art gallery has been #1 in the state of South Dakota for the past five years thanks to Jo.
  • “OSMOS IN THE CLASSROOM” GRANTS AWARDED TO ASHLIE JACOBS AND SARAH WEBER - Classroom teachers of the Humboldt School will be able to use these items for centers, extension activities, reinforcement of learning, and interventions.  The Osmo is an upcoming technology that will help our students interactively learn in a variety of content areas. Osmo supports everything from shapes to physics.
  • “THE AWESOME OSMO” GRANT AWARDED  TO LESLIE WOLLES - By adding the OSMO Genius activities to our classrooms, kindergarten students will be able to work cooperatively with classmates to improve their reading, math, science, and creative thinking skills.  
  • “INTEGRATING ROBOTICS INTO MATH” GRANT AWARDED TO JENNIFER VANDYK - “Integrating Robotics into Math” is an innovative and creative project to encourage students to think outside the box about math. Students will use a small robot, named Dash, to complete a series of tasks relating to the 4th grade mathematical standards. Students will be required to learn basic coding skills in order to maneuver the robot around the classroom or area. Through four free mobile applications, students enter codes that command Dash to move, light up, and detect objects. Some math concepts that will be used for this project include: fractions, fractional parts of a whole number, double digit multiplication, division, and geometry. Large group and small group centers are the main ways students will be using Dash within the classroom.
  • A FULL 3D BODY SCAN GRANT AWARDED TO THE LIBRARY, DISTRICT LIBRARIAN, DANANN KISTLER - This library project is for creation, not just consumption. It will meet the needs of 21st century learners and researchers by igniting intellectual curiosity and promoting lifelong learning.  It will use a motion capture camera to record the full body actions of an actor / actress in a three dimensional environment. This captured data is mapped to a wireframe and exported to a 3D modeling program where digital models are then animated. It will introduce kids to the basic ideas of motion capture used by motion pictures such as Avatar and Lord of the Rings and animated 3D modeling created in AAA video games. The requested items from Daz D are additional models for kids to animate bodies and additional multicultural choices.
  • “DRAMA PROJECTS & THEATER” GRANT AWARDED TO KIMBERLY GRAFF - As a final project in Drama, students design and construct a costume or set piece that will be used in the spring musical. Although basic concepts of design in set and costuming are introduced in the class, students will benefit from having other specialized professionals give tips and information that will help students’ projects become stage-ready.  Focus of this grant was on theater costume and technical design skill building and experience.

2014-15 Innovation in Education Grant Recipients: $5,000 in total awarded

  • iPods for students to check out and take home to help with literacy learning grant awarded to Cheryl Prunty, 4th Grade, Humboldt Elementary
  • Applications for use with iPads in the art classroom grant awarded to Brenda Sosa, Art, Hartford Elementary
  • Four-3D pens to be used at all grade levels for differentiated instruction in math, science and art grant awarded to Sarah Weber, Differentiated Instruction Coach
  • Document Reader to be used with interactive notebooks to assist with literacy learning and visually impaired students grant awarded to Sara Baldwin, 3rd Grade, Humboldt Elementary
  • Funding to cover fees for families who cannot cover morning milk, lunch, laptop rental fees, or other additional charges grant awarded to West Central School District