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  • sparking innovation for student success

  • reason #1reason #1

    Invest in children through innovation and enhanced learning.

    Technology has long been a cornerstone for expanding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) studies beyond the classroom - and teachers at Horace Mann Middle School looked to the Foundation’s Reach for the Stars grant program to add a second 3D printer to increase opportunities for students – creating possibilities not only in STEM classes, but also across the curriculum including history and art. On computers, students design their ideas and then bring the drafted models to life with a 3D plastic rendering. Availability of two printers has dramatically increased student access to this dynamic technology and in 3D - learning is real! This past school year for example, seventh and eighth grade students designed innovative projects - including a prototype for a key chain Epi-pen, tapered propelling wings for science class rockets, and their own smart phone cases. 3D

    printing provides a means for inventors, innovators, and visionaries to easily fabricate prototypes for design. In 2016-2017 two new Project Lead the Way (a nationally recognized STEM program) courses will be taught by middle school technology educators Ken Hopperdietzel (John Muir) and Wayne Kroeplin (Horace Mann). These courses, Design and Modeling and Automation and Robotics, will allow students to apply the design process to solve problems using specialized software and learning about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. 3D printing will play a key role for Sparking Innovation for Student Success.

    “Thanks so much for making this plan come to life. This will have a significant positive impact for our students and community.” Mr. Wayne Kroeplin, HMMS Teacher

  • contents

    Every day we plant the seeds of thought, reason and imagination within our children. It is the idea that brings our teachers into their classrooms with passion and optimism. Just like their students, they have dreams—dreams for new ways to help their children make connections to their learning. Some dreams harness the power of motivation for a special child. Others create a wave of energy that transforms their class, their school, even the entire Wausau School District.

    Wherever these dreamers are—teacher or student—you will find the members of the Wausau School Foundation. We’re dedicated to making dreams come true. We’re helping our teachers lead in science and technology, child development, the arts, and literacy to name a few. Every time you get involved and give to the Wausau School Foundation you are impacting the leadership skills, creativity, curiosity and determination that our students need to navigate the incredible world of tomorrow.

    These pages touch on some of the ways you make a difference for our children by being a part of the Wausau School Foundation. Today, we can make tomorrow happen. We can open the door to tomorrow for our students and let them walk right through.

    Thank you for investing in our students’ dreams.

    Andy Napgezek WSF President

    Kristine Vanden Heuvel WSF Director










    Will You Fill My Bucket

    Reach For the Stars Grants

    Alumni Hall of Fame

    John A. Waldron Student Assistance Fund

    Caught in the Act | Facebook Challenge

    Financial Statement

    Memorials | Honorariums

    Donor Members

    Board of Directors

    Dreams Write our Tomorrows Letter from the President & Director


  • Parents are their child’s first teachers. The time they spend actively engaged with their child pays real learning dividends down the road. That’s why the Wausau School Foundation actively supports the WSD Four-Year-Old Kindergarten (4K) initiative called Will You Fill My Bucket? The program helps parents understand their importance in developing communication and language skills, as well as building self- esteem and social skills in their children.

    All 4K parents receive orientation to the program early in the school year. WSD 4K principal Kara Rakowski says the focus is on interaction. They learn about about Fill My Bucket and Disconnect to Connect - putting down electronic devices and focusing directly on their child throughout the day.

    Today’s parents have never really known a time without personal devices and more than ever, they need to be aware of the impact they have on their children’s communication skills.“It’s not realistic to tell parents to get rid of their technology, but they can certainly be

    smart about how and when they use it to best interact with their children. That’s our focus,” said Rakowski. She says there are nine critical minutes for parents to focus on –the three minutes when their child first wakes, the three minutes when their child arrives home from school, and the three minutes right before bedtime. Giving children full attention in these nine minutes can make a big difference in a their lives.

    How does this help? Focusing on the critical minutes and other technology-free times builds communication and develops language, including the development of rich vocabulary. It also builds social-emotional skills known as Bucket Filling – taught to parents and children alike. Concluding the year long program, each child gets a copy of the book Will You Fill My Bucket? to read and ‘bucket filling’ ideas –further developing reading and communication skills.

    The program is also utilized in community daycares. By the time

    children come to the 4K classrooms they are familiar with the language and concepts. This helps our littlest students better express their emotions and understand what they need to have a good day at school - better prepared to learn. This unexpected community connection has been powerful! The program has gained community support. WSF Reach for Stars grants funded the first two years, but in Spring 2016 the Wausau Noon Optimists, with support from the Breakfast Optimists funded 100% the 534 books needed as a tangible ‘take home’ of the program. “That’s touching children across 13 locations including seven elementary schools and six community 4K sites. That is a powerful community wide impact,” said Rakowski. She is hopeful that the impact of the program will lead to future funding so that all 4K students and families will know and practice bucket filling not only at school but even more importantly in their homes – strengthening families as the first source of learning.

    Will You Fill My Bucket? Powerful Impact for Children, Families, and Community


  • reason #2

    9 critical minutes<

    reason #2

    9 critical minutes<

    “It’s not realistic to tell parents to get rid of their technology, but they can certainly be smart about how and when they use it to best interact with their children.”

    -Kara Rakowski, WSD 4K Principal

    3 minutes when your child wakes

    3 minutes when your child arrives home from school

    3 minutes just before bed

  • reason #3reason #3

    For 17 years donor members of the Wausau School Foundation have guaranteed that there would be a grant resource for innovation in classrooms that invests 100% in children. Teachers have turned to the WSF with their ideas and proposals of hands-on, “beyond the lesson plan” experiences to seek funds to give wings to their dreams. Thanks to the Judd S. Alexander Foundation and other donor members, the WSF Reach for the Stars program has awarded over $476,735 across the curriculum, impacting every school and investing in children - Sparking Innovation for Student Success!

    Reach For the Stars Grants Planting Seeds of Impact to Shape Learning Today - For Tomorrow

    It is not everyday that a celebrity alumnus comes back to Wausau. Yet, when it happens it is something incredible! When fashion designer, Michael Cepress (West ’99), returned to Wausau that is exactly what happened. During his stay, he was a teacher, a mentor, and re-immersed himself in the creative education that began his inspiring career.

    Together with West art teachers, Karla Mirick and Jessica Matteson and Randy Verhasselt, owner of Evolutions in Design, Michael worked with students to create a fantastic “Homegrown Project Runway” project for one of the Foundation’s annual fundraising events. Fourteen high school students participated in this extraordinary, creative project. The sculptural designs were featured during a

    luncheon on the Grand Theater stage where models took their couture for a stroll among the guests.

    A special thank you to Randy Verhasselt and the Wausau West Art Department for their contributions and tireless work to make our signature event a fashion ‘show stopper.’

    Homegrown Project Runway

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    Reach For the Stars Grants Planting Seeds of Impact to Shape Learning Today - For Tomorrow

    & 5th grade students from the Wausau, DC Everest and Newman Catholic school Districts.

    Learning Spaces South Mountain Elementary $1554

    Research supported active learning classroom equipment for kindergarten so children can self- regulate and problem solve to improve focus and learning.

    3D Prin