Palmyra Middle School teacher receives $500 grant from WGU Missouri

Gard, Nicole

Jim Chandler, strategic partnerships manager at WGU, presents Nichole Gard with a check from WGU to fund a LEGO center in her classroom for gifted students. | Photo courtesy of WGU Missouri

PALMYRA, Mo. — Nichole Gard, a PACE teacher at Palmyra Middle School, has received a $500 grant through WGU Missouri’s “Fund My Classroom” initiative.

The funds will enable Gard to create a LEGO center in her classroom, with the goal of enhancing STEAM education for the gifted students she teaches through the school’s PACE program.

Gard learned she was selected for the grant on May 8 when she was surprised with a check presentation at her school.

Gard’s project, “Building the Future: One LEGO Brick at a Time,” aims to enhance the quality of STEAM education in the classroom by allowing students to develop and strengthen essential skills, while fostering creativity and innovation.

With the grant she received from WGU Missouri, Gard will be able to develop a LEGO center for students to utilize on a daily basis for themed projects and independent learning. The LEGO bricks will be used as part of an innovation station within the classroom. Due to the creative nature of LEGO bricks, they will be reused yearly for different themed projects. The success of the center will be evaluated by anecdotal records and overall center participation.

Students in the classroom focus on self-understanding, effective communication, critical thinking, goal setting and reasoning. The LEGO center will provide a stimulating learning environment and spark joy and excitement in the students.

The innovative classroom project is one of 44 across Missouri chosen by WGU Missouri to receive funding.

In a press release, Jessica Denham, regional director of WGU Missouri, said, “This is the fifth consecutive year we have offered grant funding to deserving teachers across the state through our ‘Fund My Classroom’ initiative, and we were so moved by all the nominations we received. While we aren’t able to support all the projects that were nominated, we are excited to award funding to dozens of teachers who have come up with unique and innovative ways to improve their classrooms in order to promote learning and provide an enriching experience for their students.”

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

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