Fourth-grade teacher Melinda Kaufman stands in her classroom. Kaufman was recently awarded a grant for a new classroom project to incorporate math skills
Fourth-grade teacher Melinda Kaufman stands in her classroom. Kaufman was recently awarded a grant for a new classroom project to incorporate math skills with Greek mythology. (Gina Barker/Park Record)

Fourth-grade teacher Melinda Kaufman hopes to put a Greek spin on math lessons, specifically using mythology as a springboard. Kaufman was recently awarded a grant from the Association of American Educators Foundation, a national professional teachers association, to do just that.

"I'm always keeping my eyes open for opportunities to either apply for things or win things," Kaufman said. "We're always on a limited budget.

"We're getting ready to start a chapter on Native American myths and legends, and so this grant will be a nice way to build onto that piece of the curriculum."

Out of more than 100 applicants, only 11 grants were awarded. Two of the teachers to receive grants are in the state, and only one in Park City. Kaufman, who teaches at the Weilenmann School of Discovery, was awarded $448 to buy supplies for the lessons.

"The grants were awarded based on teachers who were able to show they had the most need and were able to demonstrate that," said Ruthie Emore, a spokesperson with the AAEF. "We had a lot of applications that had something to do with Common Core The main goal is to provide teachers with more resources in the classroom."

Common Core, a growing initiative among state offices of education, works to implement more critical thinking-based approach to teaching in the classroom. And Kaufman felt tying mythology in to math problems was a perfect example of just that.

An admitted fan of Greek mythology, Kaufman hosted a summer camp based on the popular children's series, "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." The grant will go to buying literature on Greek mythology as well as math simulation packages that outline interactive techniques to teach math alongside mythology.

"As we move into the new common core standards, there is more of an emphasis on real life, hands-on projects and simulations that the kids can do," Kaufman said. "It is not just teaching skills, but also how to apply those skills."