2021-2022 APEF Grant Recipients

It is with great pleasure that we share this year’s APEF grant recipients. Once again, we found ourselves wondering what the next school year would look like. Thankfully, the health of the Huntting and Packer Endowments and the generosity of the Hirsch Family Foundation allow the Austin Public Education Foundation to continue providing grant funding to teachers and administrators within Austin Public Schools District 492.

Building Level Grants

These grants are funded thanks in part to the Hirsch Family Foundation.

Requestor & SchoolRequestAmount
Andrea Malo, Austin High SchoolHallway Seating Options – ALC$2,416.55
Dewey Schara, IJ Holton IntermediateLaptop Charging Hub$566.00
Jason Boe, Southgate ElementaryTumblePro Foam Tumbling Mats$4,011.96
Sandra Fadness, Ellis Middle School7th Grade Life Science Microscopes$3,120.00

Teacher Grants

These grants are funded by the Huntting and Packer Endowments. Annual interest earned through these endowments determine the amount that can be distributed to teachers each year.

Community Learning Center
Judi Needham15 TI-30XS Multiview Calculators for Adult Learners$300.00
Woodson Kindergarten Center
Katie KellerHands-on Phonics Learning Activities$3,823.31
Crystal PepperPhonics Instruction Resources$672.76
Banfield Elementary
Nicole Edwards1st Grade Phonemic awareness & Centers$681.09
Nicole Edwards1st Grade Enrichment Supplemental Books$383.70
Neveln Elementary
PBIS TeamSelf-Regulation Tools $1,255.06
Lauren Phan1st Grade Center Materials$1,019.97
Holly ThomasSensory Pathway$585.00
Gerilyn Vesel1st Grade Phonics and Mathematics Materials$453.50
Amber Rochat & Gina Williams1st Grade Small Group Center Materials$1,242.06
Maria Mickelson, Janene Lunning, & Brenda HackensmithMathematics Resources$767.52
Sumner Elementary
English Language TeachersEnglish Language Tools$1,514.69
System 44 TeachersClassroom Library and Tools$2,000.00
Elizabeth HarderScience and Social Studies Materials$475.41
Elizabeth HarderReading and Math Small Group Materials$687.92
Nikky ToldeAdvanced Academic and Talent Development Manipulatives$160.46
Nikky ToldeBooks Sets $1,761.00
Southgate Elementary
Jason BoeEZSet Lightweight Portable Volleyball Standards$508.50
Jer Osgood16 pack of Board Games for Classroom Checkout$180.00
Jer OsgoodChildcraft Classic Board Game Set of 4 Games$60.00
Jer Osgood2 Picnic Tables for Outdoor Learning$1,475.00
Traci BraatenRooted in Reading Book Sets$1,444.00
First Grade Teachers1st Grade HOT DOT Independent Working Stations$1,787.24
Jayme Lamers3rd Grade Classroom Library- Diverse Books$567.61
Third Grade TeachersSocial Studies Small Group Books$1,154.00
Christy HalseyDecodable Readers for Guided Reading Library$636.00
Morgan Dickman4th Grade Bee Bot Robot and Mat Resources$319.80
IJ Holton Intermediate
Angela ThoenNewcomer Phonics Beginning Readers$176.00
Marianne DavidsonExercise Opportunities While Learning$410.14
Drue SponheimOsmo Starter Kits for Ipad$538.00
5th Grade Social Studies Teachers5th Grade Flexible Seating – Surf Chairs$1,079.70
5th Grade Social Studies TeachersLittle People, Big Dreams Series$401.31
5th Grade Social Studies TeachersBlack History Heroes Book Series$432.00
5th Grade Math Teachers5th Grade Student Manipulatives Kits$2,000.00
Leah MotlOrchestra Organizational Materials$600.00
6th Grade Science TeachersWeather Station with LCD Concole$424.95
Michelle SwankSpecial Education Osmo Genius Kit$351.61
Ellis Middle School
Arik Anderson -7th & 8th grade FootballJr. High Football Equipment$975.00
Austin High School
Kathy Ewing & the ELL TeamWho Is/Who Was EL Leveled Reading Library$700.00
Jacy BodiWeight Room Equipment Expansion$1,335.27
Kristen FranaHorizon Program Art and Creativity Supplies$1,039.38
Darla BernardHorizon Program Mind and Body Management Materials$372.94
Alexa Dolan PetersonAHS Packer Pantry Storage Request$135.00
Lisa Peters & Jordan ReimClassroom Sets – Essentials of Language Arts$1,078.80
Carlene PlineReaders Workshop Library – AP Lit$2,000.00
Leslie Leffers16 Cube Storage Organizer$140.52
Oakland Education Center
Troy DeikmanPE/DAPE – Gagaball Pit$2,129.00
Area Learning Center
Eliza KellyEasel Boards for STARS$139.98
Eliza Kelly & Nicole Fuller Hands-On Equations and Calculators $519.00
Eliza Kelly & Gabe Nelson Table Tennis Supplies for Hand/Eye Coordination $972.95
District Wide Support
Ryan Mayers, Communications CoordinatorVideo Microphone for District Videos$321.05
David Hovland, Katie Tharp, Nikky Tolde, & Kim Zerke, Elementary Music Diverse Children’s Books for Music Class $1,400.00

Total: $45,588.20

Between the Hirsch Foundation and the Huntting and Packer Endowments, the Austin Public Education Foundation was able to provide 56 grants totaling $55,702.71!  Congratulations to this year’s recipients. We look forward to seeing your grants in action during the 2021 – 2022 school year.


It’s Time! APEF Grants

Submit your APEF Grant Requests

It is an annual tradition for the Austin Public Education Foundation to provide grants to instructional staff within Austin Public Schools to support and enhance learning. Since 1992, the Huntting and Packer Endowments have made these grants possible, growing from a single $500 grant that first year to 55 grants totaling $45,588.20 in 2021!

Thank you, Hirsch Foundation – Building Level Grants

We are excited to still offer grants for building administrators funded through the Hirsch Foundation. The last few years, we have taken advantage of our new funding from the Hirsch Foundation to dream big and provide grants that impacted students at a broader level – benefitting all students within a building vs. a classroom or grade level. We will be able to continue on this year, with building administrators submitting their grant requests that enhance learning at their building.

In the midst of Theon going pandemic, it is rewarding to be able to give back to the teachers and administrators of Austin Public Schools. They have worked tirelessly this year to continue providing high quality education to our students. We can’t wait to see your grant requests for this year.

Good luck!

Jennifer Boysen, Executive Director

Carolyn Dube, APEF President

2020 Eberhart Poetry Contest Winners

The 2020 Eberhart Night of Poetry was not able to be held in a face-to-face setting this year, but a virtual celebration has been made.  All 22 finalists made clips of themselves reading their poems and these were put together into a video celebration. 

2020 Virtual Eberhart Night of Poetry

All 22 finalists receive a book of poetry courtesy of The Friends of the Library.  One winner from each building will also receive a cash prize from an endowment the children of Richard Eberhart have established.  This year’s building winners were: 

  • Woodson Kindergarten Center—Emmaline Dundas (Kindergartner) 
  • Banfield Elementary School—Charlotte Bliese (4th grader) 
  • Neveln Elementary School—Sawyer Loucks (3rd grader) 
  • Southgate Elementary School—Sophie Kaercher (4th grader) 
  • Sumner Elementary School—Jacqui Delgadillo (4th grader) 
  • I.J. Holton Intermediate School—Pleh Meh (5th grader) 
  • Ellis Middle School—Nadia Hummel (7th grader) 
  • Austin High School—Wren Clinefelter (11th grader) 

Congratulations to all the participants, finalists, and building winners! 

2020 – 2021 APEF Grant Recipients

In the midst of a pandemic and navigating the sometimes tumultuous waters of distance learning, it is particularly sweet to be able to award grants to teachers and schools within the Austin Public School District #492.

This year, we have had the privilege of receiving funds from the Hirsch Family Foundation. This allows us to approve some larger, school level grants.

Building Level Grants

These grants are funded by the Hirsch Family Foundation.

Requestor & SchoolRequestAmount
David Brown – Ellis Middle SchoolIndoor/Outdoor Portable Scoreboard$2,999.00
Eric Kossoris – Neveln ElementaryGagaball Pit $2,407.00
Katie Keller – Woodson Kindergarten CenterSelf-Regulation Classroom Break Boxes for every classroom$3,799.00
Ellen Verdoorn – Woodson Kindergarten Center
Monkey Bars$4,326.00
Lisa Quednow – Austin High SchoolAHS Weight Room Equipment $4,823.70
Deb Berg & Shari Michels – Community Learning Center
Indoor Preschool Playground$11,570.00
Kate Holmes – IJ HoltonArt Supplies$2,365.00
Jenny Compton – IJ HoltonComputer Programming & Language Building Table$8,345.34
Megan Kraemer, Nicole Edwards, & Kendra Hotchkiss – Banfield Elementary
Sensory Path$2,024.65
Julie Kakes & Jason Boe – Southgate ElementaryWalking in Snow – Snowshoes $2,503.00
Jenna Manggaard – Sumner ElementaryXACTO school pro pencil sharpeners for every classrom$728.00

Teacher Grants

These grants are funded by the Huntting and Packer Endowments. Annual interest earned through these endowments determine the amount that can be distributed to teachers each year.

Austin High School
Lisa Peters & Jordan ReimNovel studies$449.40
Jacy BodiDAPE Scooters$1,655.10
Kathy SforzaNational Geographic Independent Reading$883.00
Alexa DolanAHS Student Resource Room$854.00
Bobbie StoneASD Sensory Materials$300.00
Darla BernardHorizons Movement Enrichment Supplies$652.69
Emily Hovland9th Grade Classroom Library$500.00
Jesse SmithPottery Hand Extruder$750.00
Colleen OwensGiant Floor Continent Map & Materials – North America$2,210.00
Sue Conway & Kendra HotchkissKindness Initiative$575.00
Kendra HotchkissSensory Tools$800.00
Nicole Edwards1st Grade Literacy Enrichment$455.49
Community Learning Center
Lindy HagstromSocial Skills Kits – ECFE$862.30
Kim PotterSpecial Education – Early Childhood Sensory Tools$750.00
Judi NeedhamFraction Manipulatives$283.79
Colleen OlmstedKindergarten Social Studies Library Set$277.92
Sarah WermagerKids Korner SecondStep Bullying Prevention Unit$1,129.00
Ellis Middle School
Rhonda Regan Silhouette Cameo Cutting Machine$399.00
Juliana Pena-Marconi &
Violet Osmonson
Sensory Overload$1,002.00
IJ Holton
Tina HenelyKagan Material$435.00
David BrownIndoor Movement Break Materials$596.28
Cori McRaeClassroom Light Filters$99.98
Kristen Wilker5th Grade Language Arts Supplies$632.98
Marianne DavidsonHigh Interest – Low Leveled Phonics Chapter Books$552.00
Jenny MadsenMakerspace Cricut Machine$489.75
Ethan Wightkin & Leah MotlRubber Band & Elastic Orchestra Arrangements$1,729.00
Michelle Swank5th Grade Special Education Literacy Games$223.79
Laura Marreel5th Grade Alternative Seating$1,029.00
Maria Mickelson & Janene LunningMaking Math Meaningful$500.00
Clint PhillipsVEX IQ Super Kits$758.00
Amber Rochat1st Grade Math & Reading Center Enrichment $275.01
Julie Nelson, Erick LaRock, & Shelly WeinmannGames for Reading and Math Skills$259.56
Katie Tharp 15 Glockenspiels$663.00
Katie TharpSTEM Supplies & Pictures$322.84
Oakland Education Center
Jessica BernandFocus Room Tools $251.74
Jason BoeDAPE Tricycles$439.99
Erin SchoenATD and STEM Games$300.00
Christy HalseyDecodable Readers$606.70
Traci BraatenLego Educational Sets$247.48
Julie Kakes, Darcy Heimermann,
Evelyn Napton, & Chelsea White
Zuma Chairs$1,569.00
Jennifer SimsZones of Regulation Book Nook$350.00
Jason BoeBison 6-1 Easy Up Youth Basketball Goal$669.00
Jenna Manggaard & Jessica DammenEarly Reader Books$2,855.00
Jessica Dammen, Renee Gogolewski, Fernando Garcia, & Joelle MayersELL Classroom Library$1,316.00
Nancy Braaten Hands-On Manipulative Kits$672.00
Nikky Tolde Critical Thinking Games$384.00
Alisha GalleMath Mats $590.00
Brian HouseNumber Line Floor Mats and Alphabet Arcs$999.68
Sarah SathreRecess Accessories $528.28
Erin Heinlen & Morgan SchmitzPhysical Education Equipment$1,269.05
Multi-Site Requests
David Hovland, Katie Tharp,
Nikky Tolde, & Kim Zerke
Elementary Music Puppets – Banfield, Neveln, Southgate, & Sumner$496.25 
Maureen NotermanPBIS Behavior Support Resources – Neveln & Sumner$267.69

Total: $37,166.74

Between the Hirsch Foundation and the Huntting and Packer Endowments, the Austin Public Education Foundation was able to provide 63 grants totaling $83,057.43! Congratulations to this year’s recipients. We look forward to seeing your grants in action during the 2020 – 2021 school year.

2019 Distinguished Alumni

The Austin High School Alumni and Friends Association, along with Austin High School, would like to announce the 2019 recipients of its Distinguished Alumni Award.  This award recognizes graduates of Austin High School for outstanding achievements and contributions to society following graduation. It also promotes positive role models for currently enrolled students in Austin School District #492. The three alumni selected this year are as follows: 

Duane Napp, PhD, Class of 1951

Napp, a retired college chemistry professor and IBM engineer, generated numerous patents throughout his career, including with IBM, where he directed and managed many critical projects to assure the introduction of new products. In 1986, he received an invention achievement award from IBM related to work on component self alignment.After retiring from IBM, he also volunteered in numerous ways for Boy Scouts and youth sports, worked for the Digital Equipment Corp. and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences. He lives in Houston, Texas. His message to students is to “never quit learning, continue to improve your knowledge and education at every opportunity”.

Mier Wolf, Class of 1958

Wolf, a retired attorney for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has received awards from the U.S. Congress, State of Maryland and other governmental agencies for his achievements, which have involved serving as a legal advisor to grant programs that improved communities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. He has been an active volunteer throughout his life and served for nine years as mayor for Chevy Chase, Md., where he still resides. His message to students is “our success should be measured as much by our humanity as it is by our careers”. 

Dennis Bray, Class of 1973

Bray, of Austin, is an award-winning, retired Austin High School girls hockey coach who served as union president during his 36-year career as a machinist at International Paper in Austin. As a coach, he also coached various levels of boys hockey and softball, took the Austin High girls hockey team to the state tournament three times and has received numerous awards for his leadership, including being inducted in 2016 to the Minnesota Girls Hockey Association’s Hall of Fame. He also has volunteered for various Austin High events and other athletic programs. His message to students is to “consistently give 110%. Work hard! What you lack in ability can be made up with desire, dedication and determination”.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients!

Interested in Joining the Board?

It is a balmy summer…. err… fall morning in September and the kids have been back to school for a couple weeks now. As everyone is getting back into their school year routines, so is the Austin Public Education Foundation. We are actively seeking a new member of the foundation board. Board members can expect to be involved in the following activities:

  • Attend monthly board meetings on the 1st Tuesday of the month in the AHS Musuem.
  • Provide input regarding teacher grants that are approved annually.
  • Participate in planning the annual Packer Classic Golf Tournament that occurs the 3rd Monday in July.
  • Advocate and be a Champion for the Foundation within the community.

Board members can be any community member who support Austin Public Education and want to see teachers receive funding for classroom resources that would not otherwise be available through regular budgeting.

If this is something you are interested in, please contact Board President Carolyn Dube at 612-272-8653 or via email at carolyn.dube@austin.k12.mn.us.

Thank you, 2019 Packer Classic Sponsors

Earlier this week, we wrapped up our 22nd annual Packer Classic Golf Fundraiser. It was a hot but breezy day, making it an enjoyable afternoon of golf at the Austin Country Club. We want to extend our gratitude for our sponsors and golfers, particularly for their support of the Austin Public Education Foundation Grants. Each year, we are able to give grants totaling over $40,000 to teachers across the district for tools and resources that allow them to enhance student learning in their classrooms.

Red and White Sponsors

Ameriprise Financial – Randy Kramer

ATS&R Architects

Austin Education Association

Bremer Bank

First Farmers and Merchants Bank

Home Federal Savings Bank

Palmer Bus Service

District 492 Sponsor

Edward Jones

Packer Backer Sponsors

Accentra Credit Union

AHS Alumni and Friends Association

Cornerstone Church

Astrup Drug – Sterling Drug Inc.

Harty Mechanical

Medicap Pharmacy

Overby Orthodontics

Potach & Mitchell Dental Clinic

Randy Bailey, AHS Class of ’78

U.S. Bank


Worlein Funeral Home


Kuehn Motor Company

Diamond Ridge Printing

Lunch Sponsor

Tom and Lori Day

Beverage/Snack Sponsor

Culligan Water

Carolyn and Todd Dube

Media Sponsors

Austin Daily Herald

Mower County Shopper

KAUS Radio

Raffle Prize Donors

Hormel Foods

Historic Hormel Home

Austin Country Club

The Hardy Geranium

Rydjor Bike

Mower County Shopper

Jason Tischer

Minnesota Vikings

Downtown Austin retailers including Real Deals, Tendermaid, Gravity Storm Brewery, Steve’s Pizza, Austin Artworks Center, B & J Bar and Grill, Coffee House on Main, Bendixen Jewelry, Lou’s Forever Framing, and Rave Nutrition.

Sign up for this year’s Packer Classic

The 2019 Packer Classic is open for registration.

July 15th, 2019 – Austin Country Club

  • 11:00 AM – Registration opens
  • 11:10 AM – Putting contest begins
  • 11:30 AM – Lunch at your leisure
  • 12:30 PM – Shotgun start
  • 5:30 PM – Light meal, awards presentation

Download the registration form below to sign up. Get a team of 4 players together or just sign up and we’ll connect you with a team. Even better – become a sponsor with prominent signage and recognition throughout the tournament.

For more information, contact:

Amanda Gafkjen, Executive Director of the Austin Public Education Foundation:
Phone: 507.460.1938 Email: Amanda.Gafkjen@austin.k12.mn.us

2019-2020 Educational Grant Recipients

We are pleased to announce this year’s recipients of our 2019-2020 educational grants. These teachers and coaches wrote grants requesting funds for the projects and materials described below:

Austin High School

ProjectGrant WritersApproved
9th Grade Reader’s Workshop Libraries Levon Larson, Emily Hovland,
& Leslie Leffers
Coding in Math Stations Josephine Winter $931.68
Classroom Sensory Furniture Bobbie Stone $654.94
Giant Floor Continent Map and Materials Lisa Sanders $1,900.00
Unified Physical Education Class CreationJacy Bodi $1,500.00
Horizon Program Science Supplies Kristen Frana $466.99
Pottery Wheel Jesse Smith $1,365.95

IJ Holton

Project Grant Writers Approved
Stop Motion Lego SetJenny Madsen $482.67
EL Social and Emotional Visual Supports Angela Thoen $149.78

Banfield Elementary

ProjectGrant Writers Approved
6 Gopher TumblePro MatsSteve Bamrick $4,011.93
The Short Series: Complete Library Stephanie Fehn $764.50
1st Grade Science STEM Centers Nicole Edwards $544.73
3rd Grade Math Manipulatives Mallory Harber $1,409.24
Mr. Rodgers’ Won’t You Be My Neighbor Program Sue Conway $500.00
Horizon Wonder Workshop Robots/Bloxels Jodi VanPelt $401.67
3rd Grade Reading Enrichment Materials John Schneider $518.92

Neveln Elementary

Project Grant Writers Approved
Scholastic Ready to Go Classroom LibraryErik LaRock, Julie Nelson, & Shelly Weinmann $1,035.00
Math and Reading Center MaterialsKate Jordal & Robin Witham $442.99
Comprehension Connections Maria Mickelson & Janene Lunning $826.70
Self‐Regulation Tool Boxes for Each Classroom Stephanie Emanuel $1,203.03
Leveled Literacy Intervention Booster Pack Marilyn Oswald & Tracy Garry $440.00
1st Grade Fine and Gross Motor Practice Kits Michele Braun, Maddison Reuter, & Amber Rochat $633.93
1st and 2nd Grade Recess Cart Amber Rochat $597.04

Southgate Elementary

ProjectGrant WriterApproved
2nd grade Steam KitsAbbie Hoyle $992.30
200 Egghead Headphones Christy Halsey $900.00
4th Grade Kagan Strategies Books Lisa Deyo, Morgan Dickman, Cassie LaRock, Kurt Sorgatz, & Ryan Timm $406.00
Merge Cube Jer Osgood $100.00
K’Nex Building Sets Jer Osgood $173.00
2 Lego Education Community Sets Traci Braaten $477.86

Sumner Elementary

ProjectGrant WriterApproved
2 Big Book Classroom LibrariesRobyn Snow $1921.96
4th Grade Learning Suite Math Learning Wrap-ups Alyssa DeAdder $638.00
2nd Grade Math and Reading Palettes Angie Jannsen $1739.94
Phonics Books for Struggling Readers Hannah Gwin $415.97

Woodson Kindergarten Center

ProjectGrant WriterApproved
Sphero Spark, Beebot Card Mat, & 6 Square Panda Multisensory SystemsAmy Learn & Rachel Kaplan $490.00
10 Square Panda Multisensory Systems Christine Kasak & Crystal Pepper $495.00
Sensory Paths for each Critter Team Alisha Galle and Rachel Kaplan $683.00

Community Learning Center

ProjectGrant WriterApproved
Early Childhood Manipulatives,Toys, & Sensory Tools
Kirby Bussman and Steph Bonjour $1516.66

Oakland Education Center

ProjectGrant WriterApproved
OHD Sensory Items Lisa Row $429.88


Project Sites ImpactedGrant WriterApproved
Sensory PathsSumner & Neveln Maureen Noterman $1100.50
Books on self-regulation, growth mindset,
bullying, & classroom/school skills
Sumner & Neveln Maureen Noterman $175.56
2nd and 3rd grade Charts and Visuals Banfield, Neveln,
Southgate, & Sumner
Katie Tharp, Kim Zerke, &David Hovland $3800.00

Total (43 Grants Approved) $40,753.31

2019 Eberhart Poetry Contest Winners

This annual event is in partnership with the Friends of the Austin Public Library, Austin Public Education Foundation, and the Historic Hormel Home.

Congratulations to the following prize-winning poets from the 2019 Eberhart Poetry Contest:

  • Carter McRae, Kindergarten – Woodson Kindergarten Center
  • Ayden Keefe, grade 3 – Banfield Elementary School
  • Sawyer Loucks, grade 2 – Neveln Elementary School
  • Callie McRae, grade 3 – Southgate Elementary School
  • Daniel Jimenez Gonzalez, grade 1 – Sumner Elementary School
  • Emma Stanley, grade 6: IJ Holton Intermediate School
  • Ariana Keefe, grade 7: Ellis Middle School
  • Cassity Nangle, grade 12: Austin High School

Special thanks to the AHS Language Arts department for their assistance with the judging!