Herb Kohl Philanthropies funds 700 classroom projects


It is back-to-school time across the area, and while students break out their new clothes and supplies, a McFarland High School classroom is getting some much-needed new equipment.

Wendy Pliska is an alternative education teacher at the school and one of the teachers who had their supply requests funded by the Herb Kohl Philanthropies organization. The teachers posted on donorschoose.org, a crowdfunding website for teachers, asking for funds for what Pliska calls “the extras.”

Pliska isn’t alone. Kohl funded nearly 700 projects from 600 teachers in 140 districts across the state. The projects will reach nearly 43,000 Wisconsin students.

“I think we all know in our lives that there’s things we’d like to spend our money on and things we have to spend our money on,” Pliska said.

Those extras are things like iPads, crockpots and special chairs that help kids get their wiggles out while still focusing on their work.

Associate Principal David Piovanetti said helping kids learn in whatever way they can is the important thing.

“Something as simple as a chair might seem silly, but for a kid who’s able to sit on a chair with wheels, or a kid who’s able to sit on a beanbag chair, or a kid who’s able to sit on a chair that’s more like a bouncing ball, if that chair helps that kid learn better, then it’s worth it,” he said.

Using the crowdfunded site is just another way to raise money for supplies the school needs.

“Schools have been having bake sales for as long as I can remember, and we’ll probably be having bake sales long after I’m gone,” Piovanetti said.

Pliska said her students were excited when she got a few exercise ball chairs last year.

“I actually had students who went down to the tech ed room, and they borrowed screwdrivers and they put the chairs together and they inflated the exercise balls,” Pliska said.

And she’s excited to get one step closer to another goal — getting rid of standard chairs entirely.

“(The kids) love having those options, and they’re just fun,” she said.