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Blue Valley School District teachers surprised with more than $211,000 in grants

Posted at 3:34 PM, Nov 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-06 17:42:51-05

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Emeri Ekstrand is a sixth grader at Lakewood Middle School in Overland Park. She wants to be a journalist when she grows up.

"I love writing and it’s always kind of been my passion," said Ekstrand.

If she were to write an article on today’s event, it would probably read something like this — "Free Money." Money Joy Ginsburg says will help her achieve that goal. Ginsburg is with the Blue Valley Educational Foundation. 

“We’re giving away lots of money to teachers who’ve applied for grants to make their classes even more innovative than they already are," said Ginsburg.

The giveaway is kind of like Publisher’s Clearinghouse. Joel Goldberg, voice of the Kansas City Royals is one of the four people tasked with playing the role of Ed McMahon. He’s issuing checks to unsuspecting teachers. 

“The kids didn't wake up this morning saying, 'Oh we might get a grant today,' Goldberg said. "They woke up saying, 'It’s Monday.' And the teachers woke up today saying, 'I might get this new tool. I might get this new opportunity.'"

Hundreds of teachers wrote grant proposals, detailing what they would do in the classroom with a few more dollars. Shelley Kirk and Marci O’Grady are teachers at Lakewood Elementary School, and among the grant recipients.

"We just feel that it’s a way for them to introduce their kids to different ways of learning,” Kirk tells 41 Action News. 

O’Grady agrees.

"It makes things possible that wouldn't be possible if we didn't have those funds, like a 3-D printer,” said O'Grady.  

Ginsburg and the foundation realize the huge burden that’ll be lifted for some teachers. 

“They reach into their own pocket to fund things in their classroom and this is an opportunity for them to think outside the box," said Ginsburg.

Each school also received a $2,500 grant. More than $211,000 dollars was given away this year, making it the largest giveaway in the program’s 15-year history.