Grants Helping Teachers Help Students

Last week, a Fond du Lac High School teacher received a grant from Farmer’s Insurance to help students learn how to knit and help themselves –and others – stay warm. Chris Shafer runs a local Farmer’s Insurance agency, and he presented the check to Danielle Joslin, who applied for the grant earlier this year. 

Shafer tells us “what it is, is a way to provide educational grants back to teachers all across America. And to date, they’ve already had over $4 million paid out and it continues to grow. There’s two different kinds of grants, there’s a $2,500 grant and also a $100,000 grant and all the teacher or educator simply needs to do is write a 500-word grant, very simple, of what their wish is.”

In the application, Joslin noted that about 45-percent of students in the district are on the free or reduced lunch program and that the students were in need for warm winter clothing. Joslin’s plan is to have students knit a piece of warm clothing for themselves and another for a fellow student or person in need in the community. 

Shafer says it’s important to help teachers help students, but teachers also need help. 

He tells us that “our statistics show that an average teacher is spending $600 a year out of their own pocket. Those things are missed by all of us in the community. And granted I’ll just say this – I know teachers do things like that, I know accountants do things like that, I know the guy changing your oil does those little extra things – that’s what, as Americans, what we do. But for the teachers to do this, and continue to do it without any accolades or trophy on the wall and they don’t want a plaque.”

Through another similar program, Shafer says Farmer’s allows him to donate $500 to teachers each month, but the things they ask for aren’t quite what you’d expect. 

He explains that “the wish lists are long, but the wish lists sometimes, they’re so basic.  We had a teacher that wanted No. 2 pencils, wanted magnets to put up things on the wall. So it’s like ‘well alright’ – I issued that $100 and said ‘okay, now let’s get down to your real wish list,’ so we added more on it.”

The application submitted by Joslin also addressed the topic of helping students stay warm and be able to focus on doing better in school and graduating, rather than worrying about basic necessities.