Puffer-Hefty PTA awards school nearly $20,000 in educational gifts

As the school year winds down, excitement spreads through Henry Puffer School. It’s not just because summer vacation is approaching; rather, late spring marks the time when the Puffer-Hefty PTA announces its annual Year End Gift recipients. This year, the PTA awarded Puffer teachers, staff and parents nearly $20,000 toward resources and activities that will enhance Puffer students’ learning experiences!

“At the end of each year, we take a look at our cash balance, and when our fundraising efforts have exceeded our budgeted expectations, we open it up to teachers, staff and parents to submit year end gift requests,” said Lisa Eddington, Puffer-Hefty PTA co-president.

This year, the Puffer-Hefty PTA was fortunate to fund all 25 gift requests it received. The gifts address a wide range of curricular areas and include a playground donation, writing centers/games, social-emotional learning books and experiences, bowling balls, yoga club supplies, math activities, leveled reading materials, STEM resources, learning labs and much more.

“In the last few years, our fundraising efforts have been very successful, which has allowed us to offer this opportunity,” Mrs. Eddington said. “Our major fundraiser is our Trivia Night held in the spring, during which there are silent auctions, raffle prizes and a variety of experiences offered to the Puffer community. Our other fundraisers include a fall fundraiser and monthly dine and shares at local restaurants.”

Henry Puffer’s Year End Gift program is open to any Puffer employee or parent. Applicants complete a form explaining how their gift request aligns with the PTA’s mission to enhance Henry Puffer’s learning environment.

“The requests are then placed on a ballot and our membership votes on whether to approve the requests at our final PTA meeting,” Mrs. Eddington explained.

Mrs. Murphy's kindergarteners gain STEM experience through a 2016 Puffer-Hefty PTA gift.
Mrs. Murphy’s kindergarteners gain STEM experience via a 2016 Puffer-Hefty PTA gift.

The Puffer-Hefty PTA has offered the Year-End Gift program for about five years. Each year, these targeted donations have helped make tangible improvements at Henry Puffer School. For example, in 2016, a Year-End Gift helped Puffer students gain hands-on exposure to science, technology, engineering and math resources through the DuPage Children’s Museum Learning Lab experience.

“These ‘in-house, hands-on’ field trips engaged and enriched our students with opportunities to explore magnets, experiment with forces of motion, learn about alternative sources of energy and how simple machines work, and explore 2D and 3D shapes in our physical world,” said Carrie Murphy, Henry Puffer kindergarten teacher. “These learning labs were designed to help students integrate science, math and art concepts through open-ended exploration. The labs support curriculum and address Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards. And best of all they’re fun!”

Ms. Batkiewicz's 5th/6th graders learn to code Ollies, thanks to a 2016 Puffer-Hefty PTA gift.
Ms. Batkiewicz’s 5th/6th graders learn to code Ollies, thanks to a 2016 Puffer-Hefty PTA gift.

Julie Batkiewicz, a Henry Puffer fifth/sixth grade teacher, received a set of Ollies, or coding robots, last year through the Year End Gifts program.

“The Ollies provide students opportunities to deepen their understanding of 21st century skills,” Ms. Batkiewicz said. “They are responsible for completing many challenges and working through obstacles by coding the Ollies to accomplish different tasks. Students have been highly engaged and motivated to work with the new devices!”

Thank you, Puffer-Hefty PTA, for your generosity!