Education Foundation funds innovative teacher programs
This year, 12 grants were given to 11 teachers. These awards stem from three different grant sources.
The first is the Linda Singer Berrett Differentiated Curriculum Grant which supports programs that help teachers modify curriculum to best meet individual student needs.
The two recipients of this grant are Paula Loboschefsky at Ecker Hill International Middle School and Joan Thompson at McPolin Elementary School.
Loboschefsky’s, "Behavior Buzzer’s" program helps students with ADHD complete projects in a timely fashion by providing them with reminders to help them focus on the task at hand.
Thompson received funding for "English in a Flash," which helps English Language Learners with literacy.
Using web-based software she will track student progress through built-in testing. The grant paid for the purchase of the program and can be used by up to 100 students per year.
The second grant source is the Nele Needham Elementary Art and Special Needs Grants which are awarded to elementary school programs that promote the arts. Priority is given to those that benefit special needs students.
Susan Boone, a special needs teacher at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School, received a Nele Needham grant for, "Cooking in Room 2."
Every Tuesday she takes an hour to cook with her special needs students in grades K through 3.
Boone finds a simple recipe with pictures and words, such as hotdogs in a blanket or strawberry shortcake.
She says the project helps students hone their reading and math skills and teaches them how to act in socially appropriate ways around peers.
"When I first started teaching we cooked once a week as a reward. Now I’ve decided that it’s more of a learning tool than a reward," Boone said.
At the end of the year she compiles the recipes they have used into a cookbook.
This, in addition to other supplies, incurs costs that Boone sometimes paid out of her own pocket.
She said the grant from the education foundation was very welcome
"I was thrilled. It was really nice that they recognized that this program is valuable," she said.
Athena VanGorder at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School also received a Nele Needham grant which will allow her to purchase five Writer Plus keyboards for third through fifth graders who can express themselves verbally but have trouble writing legibly because of a fine-motor disability.
The bulk of the Park City Education Foundation grants fall under the third grant source, the Nancy DeFord Educator Initiative Grant that supports innovation in the classroom.
Melissa Bott, the reading specialist at McPolin Elementary School, received two DeFord grants.
The first grant will help her purchase materials to improve reading comprehension. The second supports her "At Home Reading" program.
"The purpose is to get books into children’s hands," she said.
While public libraries are good for that, she noted a few flaws.
"When the children go to a library they’re only allowed to check out a couple of books a week and half the time they check out books that aren’t on their reading level," Bott said.
She noted students often pick out popular books that they can’t comprehend, but in order to progress the children need to read something at the appropriate level.
Using the grant money she purchased over 1,500 books from Rosen Publishing Company at a preschool to mid-fourth-grade level.
"What we will be doing is sending home a bag with a few books for each child at school and they will read at home, and it’s all on their level," she said.
The books are all the same height and thickness so students won’t be embarrassed about the level they read on.
Children will take the books home and read with their parents, who have to sign slips saying they read with them.
"When children read alone you can’t tell if they’re comprehending a book," she said.
Bott also plans to send books home with select students over the summer and says the entire program will be helpful to hundreds of students.
"I’m very grateful that we have the opportunity to receive grants and try to get them. The ed foundation is here to work for the students and that’s what I’m here to do too," she said.
Deb DeKoff, at Ecker Hill International Middle School, received a grant to allow her sixth grade students to take photographs and compile a book complete with captions that could be a potential fundraiser.
With Kayla Dakota’s "ELL Diversity Learning" grant she will purchase computer hardware that helps the English Language Learners at Park City High School.
Removing language barriers will increase their interest in a variety of subjects and improve their chances of graduating.
DeKoff’s fellow EHIMS teacher, Nicole Muraro, received a grant that will help her use videos to give students a better understanding of cultures whose native language is Spanish.
Michelle Wallace at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School was given a partial grant for a classroom amplification system so all of the students in fifth-grade classrooms could hear their teachers more clearly.
Laura Wally at PCHS received a grant that will allow her to purchase Adobe Creative Suite 2 for the computer lab.
Jen Wheelwright at Parley’s Park Elementary is implementing a golf program to introduce students to the sport.
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