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Whitefish’s FIT helps teacher’s vision for classrooms come to life

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | September 22, 2021 1:00 AM

Despite many fundraising opportunities being delayed over the last year and a half, the Whitefish Education Foundation’s Family Involvement Team (FIT) managed to raise a significant amount of money for teachers to outfit their classrooms with needed materials this school year.

In a recent Whitefish School Board meeting Lisa Calaway, a lead coordinator with FIT, reported on what the team has been able to provide for Whitefish Schools. Funds raised through the jog-a-thon fundraiser at Muldown and the dance-a-thon event at the middle school last year went to provide teachers with up to a $300 gift card for classroom supplies to start the year.

“Everyone has been really excited about that, it’s been an amazing thing that we were able to do that,” Calaway said.

She added that teachers submit their receipts of what was purchased and also share pictures of the projects and materials they were able to buy to enhance their teaching. These purchases included a broad range of items, such as larger frogs for dissection learning in middle school science classes, music teaching application programs, books to supplement classroom libraries, unique chairs for reading time, and winter traction cleats for a new high school walking class, among others.

Whitefish Teachers Union president Megan Pepe agreed that the teachers were thrilled with the opportunity to acquire different materials to set up their classrooms this fall.

“We want to give a huge shout out to everyone at FIT and Lisa, thank you so much for the gift cards and they’re being used,” she said. “I know I used mine to buy some old-school board games, non-screen, non-techy games for my homeroom class for our Friday class activities.”

Pepe added that the gift cards extended past teachers as well when WMS nurse Deanne Sramek asked for one to obtain new supplies including a wheelchair.

In addition to the money FIT raised last year, the Whitefish Education Foundation is also a nonprofit member participating in the Whitefish Community Foundation Great Fish Challenge this year. Calaway said that donations have poured in and they are well over the $20,000 threshold so their gifts will apply for the percentage matching grant.

“So we’ll be able to do everything that we’re planning to do this year as far as the wish list, and all that,” she said, thanking the community for all the support. “I think the community finally figured out who we are… and we finally got the word out.”

Whitefish’s FIT serves in a similar fashion to a PTA, Parent-Teacher Association. FIT provides opportunities for families to become involved with their child’s school life while building partnerships between families, teachers and the school as a whole.

The Whitefish Education Foundation, with the help of FIT, supports K-12 Whitefish public school students through support of writing coaches, math mentors, early literacy, STEAM and classroom grants.