YPS Foundation for Excellence awards 41 grants

All Yukon teachers who applied earn their 'gold stars' in surprise presentations

Yukon Foundation for Excellence board member Sauny Shedeck presents an excited Shedeck Elementary School teacher, Caylan Thompson, with her foundation grant “gold star” during a surprise in-class presentation. (Photo provided)

By Cara Pattison
Contributing Writer

It’s just another day in the life of a Yukon teacher – calling roll, grading papers, and lesson planning.

But then one day there’s a knock on the door and someone runs in the classroom and hands the teacher a gold cardboard star indicating they were a winner of a Yukon Foundation for Excellence grant.

This year, 41 teachers got that knock on their door, according to Yukon Public Schools’ Foundation President Kyle Ruzicka.

“We were able to fund all 41 teacher grant applications this year because we didn’t have a banquet due to COVID concerns,” Ruzicka said. “And while the banquet is a major fundraiser for us, it did leave some money on the table this year to fund more grants for teachers.

“In all, we awarded over $31,000 in grants to Yukon teachers in grades Pre-K through 12.”

The YPS Foundation for Excellence is a 501(c)(3) that works alongside the Yukon school district. It is fully funded through grants and donations from businesses and individuals.

The foundation was founded in 1990 by five donors who believed in promoting academic excellence in Yukon classrooms: Mr. and Mrs. Darrell Hill, Mr. and Mrs. Gene Cranfill, The Jim Snyder family, Mr. and Mrs. Garland Bloodworth, Mr. and Mrs. Milton Shedeck, and the Clarence Wright family.

The YPS Foundation Board has 11 members that keep things running smoothly: Ruzicka, Sauny Shedeck, Pam Shelton, Cheri Logan, Diana Heusel, Ashleigh McClung, Carolyn Henthorn, Rosalia Pecina, Marc Foreman, Neta Duke, and Julie Simeroth.

Once the board releases the grant application, teachers are notified by YPS Community Engagement Director D’Lynne McDaniel that they can apply for the funds.

“They can apply for creative or innovative grants that supplement their regular classroom budget,” McDaniel said. “After a blind review process by the foundation board, teachers are surprised with a surprise visitor who presents them with a gold star indicating they won a foundation grant.

“It’s just amazing to see the excitement in the teacher’s eyes when they get a grant. The kids also figure out pretty quickly that the teacher just added a fun and engaging activity to the classroom. It’s a fun day for everyone involved!”

Teacher grant awards included such subjects as science, reading, Spanish, diversity, special education, and geography.

From left, Lakeview Intermediate School Principal Scott Hein, YPS Foundation for Excellence board member Diana Heusel, Lakeview teacher Timothy Rhodes, and YPS Foundation board member Ashleigh McClung pause for a photo after Rhodes learned he was a grant winner. (Photo provided)
Independence Intermediate School educators, from left, Trisha Olander, Heather Cromwell, and Hanna Hensley are all smiles as they show off the gold stars indicating they won a YPS Foundation for Excellence grant. (Photo provided)




Central Elementary School – Emilee Crim and Chelsea Stark.

Parkland Elementary School – Jamai Hirschler, Kimberly Byerly, and Kim Grant.

Ranchwood Elementary School – Elizabeth Argraves, Marcy Miller, Marci White, and Lindsey Willets.

Shedeck Elementary School – Su Scavitto, Caylan Thompson, Melissa Schwartz, and Alicia Schneider.

Skyview Elementary School – Megan Simpson, Timothy Adomyetz, Lisa Robinson, Charissa Spruill, Crystal Butcher, Candace Moy, Meredith Smith, Autumn Wood, Amy Walters, Nicole DeVault, Amy Jandebeur, Emily Cox, and Jill Leonard.

Surrey Hills Elementary School – Whitney Stults and Jillian Chambers

Independence Intermediate School – Hannah Hensley, Trisha Olander, and Heather Cromwell.

Lakeview Intermediate School – Lori White, Timothy Rhodes, and Lori Gossen.

Redstone Intermediate School – Stephanie Parker.

Yukon Middle School – Jeanette Bechtol.

Yukon High School – Hannah Hodge, Renee Shoaf, Kim Garner, DeLora Mowery, Misty Williams, and Samantha Manke.

Yukon Foundation for Excellence board member Pam Shelton tells Skyview Elementary teacher Megan Simpson that she earned a foundation grant. (Photo provided)