The Education Minnesota Foundation for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Grant award.

Minneota’s ‘award-winning’ teacher

Renae Hanson has become so adept at writing grants to help fund innovative teaching methods, the longtime Minneota teacher recently became a recipient of an Education Minnesota Foundation for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Grant for the third time. Hanson, a Title I and Technology instructor, will begin her 31st year as a teacher this fall; all at the Minneota Public School.

Hanson was one of 25 Minnesota individuals to be recognized at the 2017-2018 Grantee Recognition Ceremony last Tuesday at the Double Tree Hotel and Convention Center in Bloomington.

Besides being recognized and having a group photo taken at the banquet, Hanson also received a beautiful purple crystal apple.

The ED MN Foundation supports initiatives by members, locals, and affiliates which promote education access for students and excellence in teaching and learning.

“These projects represent the innovative thinking and creative approach for teaching and learning for which our members are known,” said ED MN President Denise Specht.

“We are proud to help support these efforts; many of which would not be possible with existing school funds.”

Hanson came up with an idea to implement GATOR (Get and take on requests) packs into her classroom.

“GATOR packs are basically learning materials for my Title I students to use in the classroom,” said Hanson. “They are items such as books, manipulative games and puzzles, and learning tools.

They are all hands-on learning materials that make learning come alive.”

While Hanson knew these types of materials were vital toward helping her students learn and grow throughout the year, she encountered one big problem.

Actually, it was more like 3,000 problems. For Hanson to see her idea come to fruition, it would take about $3,000.

She knew with declining budgets within school systems, it has become more common for teachers across the national to pay for school supplies out of their own pocket once their modest classroom budget has been exhausted.

But this amount was a little too steep to expect any teacher to fund. So in order for her idea to come to fruition, the money would have to come from an outside source.

Since Hanson had already been awarded $3,000 grants in 2004 and 2007, she decided to go that route again. Only one other time in which she had written a grant had her request been denied.

“It took me about 48 hours to research what I would need, make a budget and itemize each item I would like to order, and then write a detailed essay to the (ED MN) union,” she explained.

“I had to explain what items I wanted and what they would be useful for the students.”

“I turned in an eight-page narrative report explaining what items I wanted to order and why I wanted them, what they would be used for, and how they would benefit the students.”

Hanson found out that her grant request had been accepted in February and the money would be funneled to the union to allow for checks and balances.

“I will order the materials I need from school supply catalogs, and the union will pay for them with this grant money,” Hanson explained.

“I do have to stick to the guidelines of the grant when ordering materials.” One of the reasons Hanson writes grants on her own time is to give to others.

“If you want to be happy, you give to others. And teaching is such a giving profession,” said Hanson, who grew up on a farm near Wilmont, Minnesota.

“It’s a feel-good profession because you are molding young lives for the future.”

“I love the energy that students bring. And that’s why I love teaching. I wouldn’t have been a teacher this long if I didn’t.”

Teacher Renae Hanson

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