LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Some teachers were surprised with a special grant this morning. As First News at Nine’s David LaClair reports, the grant is a big boost for better communication between teachers and students in virtual learning.

It was a special morning at La Crosse’s Longfellow Middle School as teachers were awarded with a Gold Star Grant of more than 11-thousand dollars. It was part of ten grant deliveries across the district from the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

David Stoeffler, the La Crosse Education Foundation Executive Director said, “This fall, we are awarding ten grants totaling a little over $23,000 and this particular grant is the largest single grant that L-P-E-F has ever rewarded.

Lila Planavsky, Longfellow Middle School Library Media Specialist said, “This grant is on behalf of all secondary schools in the district, Logan Middle, Lincoln Middle, Longfellow Middle, Lincoln High School, and Central High School, and it will provide a teacher headset for all the teachers at the secondary schools.”

Longfellow Health Teacher Xeng Lee was instrumental in the idea of purchasing a headset for his own classroom.

Lee said, “I wanted to figure out how I can better project myself and ultimately when we had that two weeks where we were going to come back into class. I had to figure out how to have students in class and still be able to project my voice over zoom. I tested a whole bunch of other ones and I ultimately found out this one worked the best.

Jill Emerich, Longfellow Middle School Literacy Specialist said, “A barrier to students’ learning is when the voice of a teacher is muffled, and that’s our biggest hope is that in this distant learning environment, that students stay engaged.

Not only do teachers see these headsets as an advantage during the pandemic, but also as a means of better communication for the future.

“Being able to have those devices for students to use to create projects that give students the opportunity to share their thoughts and creative juices via audio,” said Emerich.

“When we give our students the proper tools and unique opportunities, they come up with amazing things and that’s what I’m excited about,” said Lee.

Funding to purchase the headsets is set to come next semester as staff brainstorm a plan to disperse them district-wide at a later date.

In La Crosse, David LaClair, First News at Nine.