WINNEBAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Teachers learned just how much the stateline appreciates them.

Tens of thousands of dollars in grants were doled out to local schools Monday night, and one recipient showed how the award will be put to good use.

Teachers from across the stateline received a grant from the Golden Apple Foundation to help better their classrooms. More than $23,000 was awarded Monday night.

From expanding classroom libraries to buying additional tools for students, there is a variety of ways teachers are going to spend their cash.

The common goal is to promote a rich education for students.

“After talking with some students, they wanted some different options, so I got student teacher…all different genres, just to expand and give kids more options,” said Kelly Szymanski, an English teacher at Winnebago Middle School.

Some teachers are getting creative as they plan to spend the money. Melinda Etnyre, who received over $100 dollars in grant money, is a teacher at RESA Middle School. She plans to buy multiple “life” board games, and she hopes that it will further help her students learn more and high school and life after school.

“The Game of Life, I thought would be kind of a fun way to wrap it up with learning to chose a career path, or college path, or some of the things adults …as they’re choosing things throughout life,” Etnyre said.

From adding books to school libraries to a new baseball set that will let kids with visual impairments play, everything is about improving kids’ education.

“This will keep improving kids lives and supporting them for a long time,” said Elliot Ganet, Teacher of the Visually Impaired for RPS 205.

Ganet’s grant will go towards buying a “beep baseball set.”

“Beep baseball is a game for the visually impaired, a recreational game that they can play that’s adapted for them,” Ganet said. “A lot of students with visual impairments don’t always get that level of experience, whether it’s in physical education or extracurricular activities that they can play, and play with their peers.”

Ganet said that this allows visually impaired kids to play at the same level of kids that can see.

“These types of experiences completely empower our students, give them unbelievable social, emotional support because they’re missing out on those experiences, and now they have them. They know what it feels like, they have this sort of success to be able to play these sort of games that every other kid that goes to school does,” Ganet said. “Being able to have these kids and see them in those moments in those experiences, what’s on their faces beyond their mask or with their masks…the faces are just incredible when they have these types of experiences with their peers. It’s just beyond words.”

Of the $23,000 awarded, about $11,000 of it came from Collins Aerospace. That money will go towards teaching STEM in classrooms.

“It’s so important to cultivate that interest early on,” said Kristin Smith, Vice President of Aftermarket Mechanical Systems at Collins Aerospace. “If we can bring technology into the classroom and get kids excited about math, excited about science…it just opens up endless possibilities for their careers.”

Some of the other projects included touch math programs and a listening library.

Find a full list of the projects below:

  • North’s Community Chest – To meet needs of the children and parents of the district by filling weekend backpacks for students needing additional nutrition. Hygiene items, clothing and small appliances will be available as well. Grant will provide for refrigerator, gloves and start to the foods needed. Amanda Newmes and Emily Chambers Belvidere North High School/ Belvidere CUSD 100$2,500 Rasmussen University Community Reinvestment Grant
  • 3D printer and MacBook – To allow students in the Math Department and Calculus class to understand practical applications of math. Also, to develop better conceptual understanding and elevate student learning in geometry or trigonometry. Rohini Gupta Harlem High School/Harlem CUSD 122$2,500 Collins Aerospace STEM Grant
  • 3D Printer for the Technology Lab for students to gain hands-on experience and increase engagement. James Hotchkiss Everest Satellite High School/ Belvidere CUSD 100$932 Collins Aerospace STEM Grant
  • Dive into Coding with Dash and Dot – To introduce students to the fundamentals of Coding through robots. Lori Granite Rockford Christian $2,500 Collins Aerospace STEM Grant
  • 3D scanner and dedicated laptop – To enhance middle school STEM courses and student’s knowledge & experiences with 3D design & manufacturing processes. Chris Noble and Dan Hallstrom Harlem Middle School/ Harlem CUSD 122$2,440 Collins Aerospace STEM Grant
  • Redesigning Teaching for Pandemic Survivors  – Providing STEM kits containing toys and manipulatives to teach inquiry and engineering processes. Kari Morris de Hernandez Guilford High School/RPS 205$2,500 Collins Aerospace STEM Grant
  • Books to support unit about refugees Jill Nicosia Thurgood Marshall Elementary$ 1,491 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  • Books and prizes for One School One Book program for the school Katie Thompson Machesney Elementary$1,500 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  • Beep Baseball set – to allow students with visual impairment who receive services in RPS 205’s Vision Resource Program to be included in a game on a level playing field with their sighted peers Elliot Ganet Thurgood Marshall$1,955 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  • Listening Library and Decodable Book Library – to increase students’ vocabulary, engagement, and love of reading Laura Benkovich Whitman Post Elementary/ Rockton CUSD 140$2,000
  • Books – Higher reading level books to encourage reading independently and at higher levels. This will improve reading and test scores. Kelly Szymanski Winnebago Middle School/ Winnebago CUSD 323$287 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  •  Decodable readers for elementary school book room – To add diversity, providing the opportunity to practice phonological patterns they’re learning. The books feature texts written entirely with phonetically spelled words.Kim AndrewsPrairie Hill$300 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  •  Sheet music, online lessons & ukuleles – To provide the opportunity to develop positive coping skills to last a lifetime. Music Therapy offers these educational skills: musicianship, social skills, mathematics, history, culture and responsibility. Helps process emotions, trauma, grief. Will add to Student Support Group Offerings & team’s ability to meet student needs. Megan Nilson North Boone High School/ North Boone CUSD 200$ 300Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  •  Books, teacher guide & audio CD version – To support comprehension and growth in learning Spanish. To provide the opportunity to increase skills while learning history and culture.Erin WeldonHononegah/ Hononegah CUSD 207$273Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  •  Copies of Book for whole class to cover topics empathy & ecosystems; to   compare/contrast characters; to tie into science unit on Web of Life and life or water cycles.Julie MeyerKinnickinnick School/ Kinnikinnick CUSD 131$291
  • Task and Work Boxes – To help students learn job skills and work on academic tasks at a level allowing them to be successful. Students will be able to match colors, letters, shapes and numbers, then work on identifying the same items.Abigail GorhamRolling Green Elementary/ RPS205$286Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  •  Books – To grow the social-emotional resources for the school psychologist, social worker and counselor. Students will focus on recognizing emotions through Zones of Regulation curriculum; to represent diverse groups of students & provide specific examples of following through with broad skills taught in group instruction. Kathleen Dingle Washington Academy/ Belvidere CUSD100$292 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  •  The Game of Life game – To show the class in a fun, yet informative way, college or career choices after high school, plus the pitfalls and celebrations of adulthood. This will show the importance of choosing Academies & Pathways and provide the perspective of making important life choices, which can steer focus onto course choices and working hard starting freshman year. Melinda Etnyre Rockford Environmental Science Academy/RPS205$175 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  •  Touch Math programs, providing hands on, visual learning to keep Autistic students motivated & engaged, which boosts academic success. Robin FarrellRPS205$240 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  •  Weatherproof outdoor vocabulary banner – Non-verbal children needing alternate forms of communication have devices to use in classrooms, but on the playground, they have limited ways to communicate. The banner will help them be able to comment, request, ask questions and
  • socially interact. Amanda Nedved Rolling Green Elementary/ RPS205$150 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  • LEGO center/wall – To allow children to practice skills such as problem solving, collaboration, spatial awareness and planning. Meghan Hembrough Donald C. Parker Center/ Harlem CUSD 122$143 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant
  • Pytheon Graphing Calculator & SAT Prep Book – To introduce coding. Calculator can enhance students’ understanding of robotics and other engineering topics. Also, to improve math SAT scores. Jeff Corn North Boone High School/ North Boone CUSD 200$173 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant 
  • Math games and binders – To bring an excitement of math in the form of games and to practice fluency and learned math skills. Courtney Korasick Rock Cut Elementary/ Harlem CUSD 122$272 Meg & Rob Hodge and Golden Apple Foundation Grant