West Franklin teacher awarded $300 grant from 'Fund My Classroom' initiative

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

A West Franklin educator has been awarded a $300 grant through Western Governors University’s (WGU) “Fund My Classroom” initiative.

Shantal Nickel, an English language arts (ELA) and social studies teacher at Appanoose Elementary School, learned of her selection when WGU staff surprised her with a virtual check presentation.


The funds will be used to purchase six Spheroes – spherical, programmable robots – to help expose third-to-fifth-grade students to technology and further engage them in the classroom.

The Spheroes will provide a fun, hands-on STEM activity for Nickel’s students, allowing them to play games while learning how to code and introducing them to a new experience in the world of technology. She believes using and being exposed to this type of technology will have a positive impact on her students and inspire them to seek out other opportunities in the future.

“We were happy to read about all the amazing projects our teachers have planned and are excited we can bring so many to life through our ‘Fund My Classroom’ initiative,”  Dr. Angie Besendorfer, Regional Vice President of Western Governors University, said. “This past year has been a challenging one for both teachers and students as they were forced to adapt to new styles of teaching and learning. This initiative is an opportunity for WGU to celebrate teachers and thank them for their dedication to educating and positively impacting their students, while enhancing learning for students – both in and out of the classroom.”  

The innovative classroom project is one of 23 across Kansas chosen by WGU to receive funding. The nonprofit, fully online university issued a call in March for K-12 teachers across the state to nominate proposed classroom projects by April 18 for the opportunity to receive full or partial funding through its “Fund My Classroom” initiative. Nickel’s proposal was one of more than 80 nominations received statewide. Most grants were awarded during Teacher Appreciation Week, which ran May 3-7. 

To learn more about the “Fund My Classroom” initiative and the work WGU is doing to help teachers advance their careers, visit wgu.edu.