2016 Karen Cox Memorial Grant awardees

Fighting obesity in Kalispell: “With obesity and obesity-related illness overtaking tobacco use as the number one preventable cause of death, it is vital to get our youth active and nutritionally educated,” says Ross Darner, teacher at Evergreen School in Kalispell.

The school’s Evergreen Fitness Team (EFT) program does just that. Due to budget constraints, the school district has no money for the project. Staff raise the funds each year so students in grades 2-8 and their parents can take part at no cost.

Darner’s Karen Cox grant will help purchase equipment and healthy snacks for the program.

Stress management in Billings: “January is a month of change,” says Rachel Schillreff, librarian at Billings West High School. “Our students come back from winter break and immediately begin to prepare for final exams and a change in classes, both of which are stressful.”

Many libraries across the country offer stress management opportunities during this time, Schillreff says. Now, with help from a Karen Cox grant, Billings Senior can do so, too. The grant will help the library provide yoga and meditation classes, a relaxation nook, information on stress management techniques, a visit from therapy dogs, and more.

Special education in Bonner: Bonner teacher Breeann Adam will use her Karen Cox grant to buy an iPad Air 2 and several apps designed to reinforce learning for students with autism and other disabilities.

“These are typically students who require creative and unconventional methods of learning and review,” she says. “Evidence shows that students on the autism spectrum particularly benefit from using technology.”

The iPad Air 2 and apps will help Adam’s middle school students with reading, math, communication, speech and language, and other skills. 

Great books in Great Falls: “Someone once said there are two kinds of people, those who love to read and those who are reading the wrong books,” says Great Falls High School teacher Joan Dailey. “It is my mission to put the right books into the hands of my students.”

Every year, Dailey surveys her students to learn their interests and reading habits, then gives them personalized book recommendations.

Some students avoid the library because they can’t finish a book in the allotted time and end up paying fines, she says, so they prefer to borrow from her classroom library.

Dailey’s Karen Cox grant will help her add about 40 high-interest young adult books to her classroom library, keeping it current and relevant.

Hokki in Helena: “We are a wiggly bunch!” says 4th-5th grade teacher Jodi Delaney at Broadwater Elementary in Helena. “Hokki stools are specifically designed to help students ‘keep moving while sitting still.’”

These ergonomically designed stools are beneficial for a wide variety of students, but they aren’t available for children who don’t have it specifically written as an accommodation, Delaney says.

“I have several students who need this tool to develop muscular strength and better posture/balance, as well as help them focus on task safely,” she says. Delaney will use her grant to buy four Hokki stools.

Music in Bonner: Potomac School teacher Sarah Schmill uses hand chimes to teach her 5th-8th grade music class how to read music and play an instrument. But her two sets of hand chimes are damaged beyond repair. “I have to turn students away from my class because I don’t have enough instruments for them to play,” she says.

Schmill’s Karen Cox grant will purchase new hand chimes, allowing her to include as many students as possible in the class.