DC West Schools Foundation Awards Classroom Grants

This month, DC West Schools Foundation awarded four classroom grants to teachers at DC West Community Schools. Classroom grants aid teachers and staff in providing additional funding for educational opportunities beyond traditional resources. Applications for classroom grants are reviewed and approved by building Principals and the Superintendent before being considered by DC West Schools Foundation.

The first classroom grant was awarded to support the Falcon Achievement Center, a program focused on credit recovery, career exploration, employability skills training and work-based learning. Alternative Education teacher Randy Donner intends to use the funds to purchase small incentives to engage students to accomplish their goals.

A second classroom grant was awarded to provide students in the ‘Introduction to Health Careers’ course access to an app with interactive 3D and augmented reality experiences to connect course concepts and terminology with real-world applications. Through simulations, students are able to gain real-life proficiencies and insight into careers in healthcare. Tracy Larsen, teacher of the course, said the app can also benefit students enrolled in other courses such as Anatomy and Physiology.

The third classroom grant was awarded to support coursework in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. Lisa Leonard, the STEM and Computer Science teacher in DC West High School, will be using the funds to purchase two types of kits for students. The first kit provides the supplies to build a small robot and the second kit includes materials to learn about electrical circuits and how to illuminate LED lights. Through these kits, students will gain hands-on experience with concepts relevant to potential future careers in STEM.

Students in the ‘Falcon Brew’ program

A final classroom grant was awarded to assist the ‘Falcon Brew’ program. ‘Falcon Brew’, led by Special Education teacher Lisa Masters, is a program at DC West Middle School where students deliver coffee, tea, muffins and brownies to DC West teachers and staff. The skills-based program educates students in social skills, hygiene, basic math as well as builds transition opportunities. The classroom grant funds will be used to help jump-start this program while it continues to grow and develop.

DC West Schools Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization supporting the students and staff of DC West Community Schools. To learn how you can contribute, visit the Donation page.

Meet the Board: Elizabeth Donner, Vice President

What led you to want to join the board?
I was really driven to join the board for the opportunity to enhance and make our school, and our community, even better. I have two children that attend DC West, and my husband is a teacher for the district. We want to see DC West flourish. Participating on the DC West Schools Foundation board gives me that opportunity.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your board role? (career, hobbies, family, other DC West activities, etc.)
I love spending time with my family, especially being outdoors.

Tell me a little about your background. (hometown, school, etc.)
I did not grow up in Valley or Waterloo, but did attend a small school in Nebraska. That’s what drew us to DC West, is having that small community feel.

What are some of your favorite things about DC West?
I love the friendships our family has been able to make at DC West. We truly have a community that cares about us and is willing to help out.

What do you hope to see this board achieve in the coming year or years?
I’m looking forward to helping raise funds for items that will enhance the new building project at the middle school. We are going to have wonderful facilities, from the auditorium to the new training room. I want to support those facilities in any way I can.

Why do you think others should support or get involved with DC West Schools Foundation?
The DC West Schools Foundation was established to support the school, above and beyond what can be covered by the district itself. I want the best for our students, as I believe all parents do. Supporting the DC West Schools Foundation, supports our kids, our teachers and ultimately the community we all live in.

Meet the Board: Sue McKie, President

Sue McKie, DC West Schools Foundation President from 2019 to present

What led you to want to join the board? 
DC West did not have a school Foundation and there was a need for one. Foundations are the fundraising “arms” of School Districts and help raise money to provide funds for items that current funding is unable to cover. These additional funds help Districts provide the best educational opportunities for all children and keep up with current educational trends. With the help of 8 other founding board members, we got a foundation started at DC West in August of 2019 and it just keeps growing stronger!

What do you enjoy doing outside of your board role? (career, hobbies, family, other DC West activities, etc.)
I have always enjoyed being active with groups that benefited my occupation and my children (along with other children as well). Now I am looking forward to ways to spoil my first (and future?) grandchild(ren)! Getting together with friends is something I always enjoy as well as making new friends. Throw in some time to “putz” around in my garden and I’m a “happy camper”.

Tell me a little about your background. (hometown, school, etc.)
I was born in Manhasset, Long Island, grew up in East Brunswick, New Jersey, graduated from the Ohio State University School of Architecture, moved to Omaha in January of 1977 and to Waterloo in 1987. I am a semi-retired Architect and have served on many Boards including the American Institute of Architects – Omaha and the Construction Specifications Institute. I taught a Constructions Documents course at UNO for about 10 years. I served on the Waterloo School Board for 1 year, the DC West School Board for 12 years and local Homeowner’s Association for 10 years. I have 3 children, Michael (Valley Class of 2003), Alison (DC West Class of 2007) and Jennifer (DC West Class of 2010). While they were in school, I was active in the Waterloo PTO, Valley PTA/PTSA, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

What are some of your favorite things about DC West?
The people! Those I have had the opportunity to work with have all been wonderful, whether an administrator, teacher, student, parent, community member, local business owner, church member, etc. The sense of “family” in the District employees is amazing. While serving on the School Board we came up with a saying “We are a “public private school and a best kept secret”.  I agree!

What do you hope to see this board achieve in the coming year or years?
I would like to see this Foundation keep going and keep growing!  The DC West Schools Foundation has provided enhancements to our facilities like Emergency Bleed Kits, Wireless Microphones in the Competition Gymnasium and travel cases for the competition Robotics robots, to name a few. The Foundation has also provided Classroom Grants for teachers to purchase teaching enhancements in their own classrooms and special Project grants for larger group projects or special events; for example, providing transportation expenses for the Junior Class to travel to Kansas City for a special educational event and a teacher appreciation campaign during the Covid-19 shutdown. The Foundation also provides scholarships to graduating Seniors. When the Foundation was formed in 2019, we provided 2 scholarships. In May of 2022, 7 scholarships were offered, some backed by private donations. DC West Schools Foundation has applied for several grants and received a $15,000.00 grant to be publicly announced in the near future.  The Foundation helped facilitate the partnership between DC West and the Twin Rivers YMCA to provide a Before and After School Program to DC West Elementary School. We have received several Special Grant requests to bring some exciting educational enhancements to the District and requests for support enhancements for the new construction currently under way. There are so many ways the DC West School Foundation and the DC West School District can work together to keep providing the best educational experience for each child as we can!

Why do you think others should support or get involved with DC West Schools Foundation?
Every school district struggles to find ways to keep community members engaged in school happenings. The DC West Schools Foundation can serve as a bridge between the District and the community. Support of a Foundation does not always have to be financial donations (although always welcome!) but can also be by participation in Foundation sponsored activities or helping facilitate these activities. Volunteers are always welcome!

What is a ‘fun fact’ about you? 
The DC West Schools Foundation has created a fundraiser that utilizes flocks of about 20 plastic flamingos placed in District members’ yards with the offer to relocate them to another “friends’” yard for a nominal donation. I am currently serving as the “Mother Flocker” of the Flocking Flamingo Fund Raising Program!

Anything else you’d like to share with the community?
A big THANK YOU for the support shown to the DC West Schools Foundation and Foundation activities, with the hope that we can work together in the future to keep a good thing going!

DC West Schools Foundation Participates in Valley Days 2022

As part of Valley Days 2022, DC West Schools Foundation walked in the parade and hosted a dunk tank fundraiser. With a donation, students and community members could earn ‘throws’ for the chance to dunk their favorite teachers, coaches and administrators. A great time was had by all!

DC West Schools Foundation Awards Scholarships to Graduating Seniors

DC West Schools Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of the 2022 DC West Schools Foundation Scholarships:

Falcon Silver Scholarship – Avery Wright

Falcon Red Scholarship- McKenzee Ferree

Jump Start – 4 Year Program Scholarship – Natalie Taft

Jump Start – 2 Year Program Scholarship – Peyton Patterson

Community Anonymous Scholarship – Haydon Herman (not pictured due to State Trap Shooting Competition)

Rick Hayden Memorial Scholarships – Avery Wright and Zach Spanke

Alumni Spotlight — Tyler Curtis, DC West Class of 2012

Tyler Curtis graduated from DC West High School in 2012 and has since built his professional career in IT. After graduation, he started at First Data before moving to a small company in Millard, Worldview LTD, where he developed in the company advancing between multiple positions building robust business skills. The positions involved travel growing Tyler’s understanding of life and culture outside of Nebraska. From the skills built with his career, Tyler was able to found Curtis Business Solutions in 2021 providing IT consulting for local businesses and organizations as well as website design and hosting services.

In 2019, Tyler purchased a home in Valley and began reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. He has been involved with the Valley Fire Department allowing him to build connections with other organizations and volunteer opportunities. Currently, he is on the Post 58 Legion Baseball Board, is active with the fire department, assists with Valley Days planning and serves as an active member for the Valley-Waterloo Business Association. On top of his busy schedule, he is the first to volunteer for events and happenings when the occasion arises.

Tyler says he is incredibly proud to have graduated from DC West. His sister is currently enrolled in the elementary school and he enjoys hearing when she gets recognized by his old friends and connections.

Thank you for sharing your story Tyler! You are doing amazing work!

We’d love to hear and share what you have been up to since graduation! Please visit our Alumni Spotlight Submission page and fill out the form, you could be spotlighted next! If you are up to sharing some photos, please email those to dcwestschoolsfoundation@gmail.com.

View previous Alumni Spotlights