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Past Winners of the Forward Together Grant

Past Winners

"When I told the reading specialist about my idea, she basically had a meltdown.
Nothing like this had ever been done before, as far as we knew."

- Ted Chaudoir, 2014 Forward Together Award Winner

Scott Anderson, Juda School District

Reusable Energy


The students should run the show. That’s what Juda High School teacher Scott Anderson passionately believes is essential to effective learning. It was also the basis of his students’ Forward Together Award proposal for a green energy project.

“By giving students a project they own—one that has an immediate impact here and a bigger impact globally—they can pick up so many skills,” says Anderson.

With the Forward Together Award, Anderson’s students planned to add 12 solar panels to their school, bringing on-site green power generation to 8.75%. Students designed the project, from engineering and design to outreach and promotion. Anderson’s students even presented their work at the 2014 State Education Convention.

“Not only do we want to reduce our energy in-house, but we want to show other schools and other communities that this is possible. If we can do it, so can you,” says Anderson.

Ted Chaudoir, Southern Door School District

Driving Literacy

“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.”

Kyle Walsh, Verona Area School District

Reading Music

As a UW Marching Band flugelhorn veteran and Verona Area School District elementary school teacher, Kyle Walsh loves incorporating music into his classroom. By the time he applied for the Forward Together Award, he had already made two music videos that focused on math and kindness.

Walsh envisioned something bigger—he wanted to invite UW athletes, band members, teachers, students, and people throughout Wisconsin to celebrate literacy in a new music video called “If You Want to be a Reader.” Set to the tune “If You Want to be a Badger,” this song would teach students that reading is everywhere.

“Children. Literacy. Community. What better to bring the 3 together than the Little Free Library Movement?” posited Walsh in his application. In addition to the music video, Walsh would use the Forward Together Award to purchase a Little Free Library for his school.

Today, Walsh’s music video has 6,500 views on YouTube and features Bucky Badger, Barry Alvarez, UW student athletes and dozens more community members reading and singing with his students. His Little Free Library welcomes families to bring this literacy buzz home—so much that it’s now running low on books.

“Sounds like a problem, to be running out of books. But when you think of why we're running out, it's because children and families are taking them and reading them. That's the whole point!” says Walsh.