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Wayzata Education Fund's Thank a Teacher Program Offers New Way to Support District Teachers and Staff

Sep 14, 2018 05:16AM ● By Liz Brown

When I joined the Wayzata Education Fund (WEF) board in 2015, the amount of passion I saw from every volunteer to make a positive impact on the Wayzata School District truly overwhelmed me. While the dedication of the board, innovation of teachers and staff within the district, and fundraising within a sub-community was not lacking, what we were missing was broader outreach across our community.

There are many people—including fellow parents and local business owners—who are unaware of WEF’s mission and impact on the entire school district. We needed a new idea that not only spread the word about WEF, but was also a positive program for our schools.

But how, as an all-volunteer board of less than 12 members, could we get the word out and make a splash? We were full of ideas, but they were either daunting given our size, or we thought they wouldn’t make a big enough impact on our community outreach efforts.

Then the idea for the Thank a Teacher Program emerged. What better way to get our community involved than to celebrate our teachers? We launched a short pilot program in the spring of 2017, and the demand seemed to be there. Things were taking off.

When planning for 2018’s program, we made a concerted effort to get the word out. We needed to see just how many people wanted to thank a teacher. So we asked people to donate to WEF in the teacher’s honor. As an added incentive, we collaborated with Nothing Bundt Cakes – Minnetonka, to award every teacher who received a donation of $25 or more with a donated bundlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

The program officially launched alongside Teacher Appreciation week in May 2018 and it ran through the end of the school year. In those five short weeks, I’m happy to report that we received 110 donations and raised more than $3,000 for WEF.

That $3,000 is a significant sum that means an additional grant from WEF to a teacher with an innovative idea. You never know, it could become the next light exposure screen printing for the graphic design and ceramics classes at the high school, more makerspace carts for the elementary schools, or a new music program for our middle schools.

So thank you. The Thank a Teacher Program has been extremely successful. This is not only a testament to the exemplary teachers and staff who work throughout the Wayzata School District, but also proof of the wonderful families and individuals who live in our community. Look for this program to come back later this year.

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