2018 Don Hawkins Community Oak Savanna and Mineral Point Excellence in Education Grant Awardees From left: Laurie Heimsoth, Deb Molle, representing the MPEIE Dr. Sarah Fox and Kristin Mitchell, Amanda Ingwell, Jeff David, and McKenzy Brown.

3rd graders with plants for the savanna.

3rd graders with plants for the savanna.

3rd graders with plants for the savanna.

3rd graders working in the savanna.

Matthew Goninen and Mason Mattison with their successful grant application.

5th graders enjoying Vitamin N.

5th graders enjoying Vitamin N.

Margaret Mead’s famous quote – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – most certainly reflects the accomplishments of the Mineral Point Excellence in Education Advisory Board.

Formed in January of 2017, this group – including Kristin Mitchell, chair; Nancy Harker, Sarah Fox, Christine Heins, Mary Jean James, Joni Martin, Larry McNeill, Jessie Potterton, and Rebecca Steffes, as well as retired board member Monica Dunn – has worked diligently to build an endowment, the earnings from which will provide monies for grants for school projects in the MP district FOR EVER.

As of May 1, 2018 the EIE endowment had grown to over $40,000. The initial seed money of $10,000 was provided through the sale of the “Super Snacks for Super Kids” book. Additionally, the advisory board organized the “Every Penny Counts” campaign, challenging classes within the Mineral Point School District to become ‘$1,000 charter donors’ to the MP EIE Endowment. As a result, numerous individuals, families, and organizations have made gifts to the endowment.

As noted, the ultimate goal is to generate monies for grants for projects within the MP Schools. Dr. Sarah Fox and EIE Board Chair Kristin Mitchell attended the year-end MP teacher/staff appreciation event and presented three grants, totaling nearly $2,000. The projects funded included Opera for the Young, proposed by Elementary Music Teacher Jeff David; a subscription to Nearpod, an interactive learning platform, proposed by 6th Grade Teacher McKenzy Brown; and needed supplies to initiate Yoga and Mindfulness for School-Aged Children, proposed by Elementary Instructional Assistant Amanda Ingwell.

Fox and Mitchell also presented the initial Don Hawkins Community Oak Savanna grants. This named endowment is specific for projects/initiative in the school’s oak savannas. The endowment was funded by gifts from the Hawkins family. Two awards of just over $350 were presented. 3rd Grade Teacher Deb Molle accepted a grant to fund work at/involvement with the oak savanna; 5th Grade Teacher Laurie Heimsoth received the a grant to support Vitamin “N” (Nature) Day.

3rd Grade Savanna Work

Mrs. Deb Molle, Mrs. Carmen McDonald, and Mrs. Sue Niehaus applied for the Don Hawkins Community Oak Savanna Endowment and recieved the grant.  Everyone was very excited to continue the legacy of Don Hawkins by purchasing native plants for the Oak Savanna.  Aspen Ridge owners, Marsha and Troy Wyatt, were awesome and donated  additional plants,  which almost doubled our purchase. The students were thrilled. Friday, May 25 was planting day.  With the help of 51 3rd graders,  Mr. Don Hay and Mr. Mike Robinson and his high school ag students, many native plants were put in the Oak Savanna.

“Students had previously harvested and planted seeds from the Oak Savanna, so along with the plants purchased from the grant, and the plants we planted, many new native plants will be seen in the Oak Savanna. The teachers and students want to thank the Hawkins Family, the committee, Marsha and Troy Wyatt and, Mr. Robinson and his students. It took many hands to make this project complete. I am sure Mr. Hawkins would be proud of us,” said Mrs. Molle.

Facts of the Vitamin N Day:
1. Matthew Goninen and Mason Mattison wrote and received funding through the Don Hawkins Community Oak Savanna Endowment.
2. 57 students learned and enjoyed nature with four specialists:
–stewardship activity and discussion about invasive species with Chuck Tennessen
–general discussion of conservation & oak savanna habitat with Katie Abbott
–brief discussion about prairies or animals and scavenger hunt with Sarah Pearce
–Storytelling experience with Jane Stenson
3. A day of adventure, learning, fun, and relaxation in the great outdoors doing what Don Hawkins thought people needed more of–absorbing Vitamin N.

The Mineral Point Excellence in Education and the Don Hawkins Community Oak Savanna Endowment Funds are components of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, a 501(c)(3) public charity.

For additional information, contact Kristin Mitchell, board chair (608-987-3370 or kristin@kristinmitchelldesign.com) or CFSW Donor Services Rep Barb Daus (608-778-3344 or barb@cfsw.org). Donations to either or both endowments may be made online at www.cfsw.org or by mail to PO Box 5, Mineral Point WI 53565. Make checks payable to CFSW/MPEIE or CFSW/Hawkins Endowment.