Past Winners of the Forward Together Grant

Past Winners

Anneke Thompson, Burlington School District

Bringing Creativity to Life

Anneke Thompson’s project, Techno Dragon Designs, will use 3D printing technology to foster student creativity and build important life skills. “I want students to know that if they can dream up an idea, they can accomplish anything with hard work,” Thompson said. “Teaching children how to overcome barriers and stick with something for a long period of time and to realize their potential is a life lesson that Techno Dragons Designs will offer.” Thompson’s Techno Drago Designs will use the $3,000 Forward Together Award to purchase a 3D printer and filament rolls. With these new materials, students will create products to be sold in the school store, which will make the program self-sustaining

Robert Ferguson, Menominee Indian School District

Connecting to Roots

Robert Ferguson applied for the Forward Together Award to fund his Maskihkiw Garden Project. This after-school program will teach Menominee Middle School students about the traditional planting and harvesting customs of the Menominee people. The project will be led by Grace Kasper, a science teacher at Menominee Middle School.
“I believe this garden will be one more spoke in the educational wheel that will lead our students to an understanding of their own self worth and their abilities in sustaining a healthy lifestyle,” said Kasper.
Through the maintenance of the Maskihkiw garden, Menominee students will learn about the importance of nutritious foods and encourage them to make healthy choices throughout their lives. The Forward Together Award will provide materials for the garden, including traditional Menominee plants such as sage, sweetgrass and cedar.

Kathryn McKillip, Slinger School District

Leading by example

Kathyrn McKillip’s project, the Kind Individuals with Integrity (K.I.W.I.) Club, is a school organization that helps foster meaningful relationship between students with and without disabilities. Students will work together to create volunteer projects and social events to spread awareness and inclusivity to all. “We believe that everybody has something to give and it may be very small, but it can make a huge difference in somebody’s life,” McKillip, said. “The success of this program is really in the friendships that are built between these students. Ultimately, I would like see this grown to other schools, as well.” The Forward Together Award will be used to send this organization to the Door County Adventure Center. This retreat will help create a culture of inclusivity and strengthen relationships between students that will extend beyond the classroom. “We were humbled by the vision, passion and drive of this year’s winners,” said Jon Klett, WEA Trust’s Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Product Development. “The Trust has long served Wisconsin educators, and the Forward Together Award allows us to support not just teachers’ health, but also their love of teaching.”

Ted Chaudoir

Driving Literacy

Forward Together Past Winner Ted

“When parents put their 4-year-old on the bus for the first time, they are mighty concerned about what they will learn,” says Southern Door bus driver Ted Chaudoir. “On the bus, I teach courteousness, patience, manners and kindness. It’s not part of my job description to teach them literacy, but now it’s my passion to help.”

Chaudoir started his Books for the Bus program by simply placing a cardboard box full of his daughter’s old books on his bus. He encouraged children to choose a book when they boarded the bus and sit quietly to read. When he saw how reading created a calm, safe and productive environment for students—some who rode the bus for nearly an hour to school—he knew he was on to something.

Soon, Chaudoir established a mentorship program on his bus, pairing older students with younger students to help them read. He partnered with the district reading specialist to find more books and began expanding the program to other buses in his fleet. He found a local seamstress to make slip covers for bus seats that would hold the books, ensuring student safety.

The Forward Together Award helped make the program expansion possible. Now, all 18 buses in Chaudoir’s fleet have Books for the Bus, and each bus has slip covers on their seats.

“As a support staff person, you don’t come to the job thinking ‘I’m going to be an educator,’” says Chaudoir. “But soon you realize that everything you say, everything you do, really matters.”