STEM charter academy earns $5,000 INL grant

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Lisa Young, a fourth-grade student at North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, far right, celebrates with co-founder and principal Scott Thomson and Anne Seifert, K-12 education and STEM outreach coordinator for the Idaho National Laboratory, after being presented with a $5,000 grant, that will be used in a classroom makeover, during an assembly Wednesday at the Rathdrum school.

RATHDRUM - Lisa Young's class is about to get a makeover.

The fourth-grade teacher at North Idaho STEM Charter Academy learned during a surprise assembly on Wednesday that she's the recipient of a $5,000 grant from Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls for a classroom makeover.

"I'm ecstatic," she said after being notified that she had won. "It should be a pretty good time."

Young said half of the funds will be used on general science supplies such as microscopes, cylinders and prisms. The other half will be spent on electronic-related material. She said the previous largest grant that she had won was $500.

Young said she applied for the grant in January and didn't realize what the rare assembly at the school was about.

Owen Moore, one of Young's students, said the announcement was an eye-opener to him.

"I didn't think that she had much time to do things other than teach," he said. "She grades a lot of papers."

Moore said he's "really excited" that his teacher won.

"We only have a couple microscopes and laptops, so this will really help," Moore said.

Young said other teachers at the Rathdrum school will also be able to utilize the equipment purchased from the grant, so the funding will have a ripple effect.

Anne Seifert, INL's K-12 education and STEM outreach coordinator, made the presentation to Young, and said about 100 teachers statewide applied for the $5,000 grant.

She said Young's willingness to engage students is what brought her application to the top.

"There's opportunities to get students motivated and excited in STEM," Seifert said. "When students want to get their hands dirty, they're more likely to deepen their learning in STEM."

Seifert said INL hopes the grant will also pay future dividends for both INL and the state.

"We want these kids in our workforce," she said. "We want to keep them in Idaho."

Scott Thomson, STEM Charter Academy's executive director, said the funding will be a huge boost for the school in times of tight budgets. He said school staff only win about 10 percent of the grants for which they apply.

"This will allow her to be creative and do what's best for kids," he said. "It is nice when good things happen to good people. I think Lisa is a good example of how hard our teachers work on a daily basis to provide any advantage they can for their students. She is certainly worthy of this grant and I know she will put it to good use."

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