Education foundation aims to support Park City educators during pandemic with wellness initiative

Program kicked off in the fall with free coffee and goodies

Grace Plavocos
Park Record intern
Park City High School employees wait in line for free coffee and pastries in November as part of the Park City Education Foundation’s ongoing Educator Wellness Initiative.
Park Record file photo

With the stress that 2020 brought, the Park City Education Foundation wanted to give back to Park City School District teachers. As a result, they launched the Educator Wellness Initiative.

The goal of the initiative is to provide wellness programs for educators, including mindfulness training, food, yoga classes and gym memberships.

Melissa Nikolai, a language arts teacher at Park City High School, expressed her gratitude for the program.

“Words cannot express how much I value the PCEF,” she said. “Their support of teachers has been instrumental to me being able to implement goals and ideas and generally be my best as a teacher to my students.”

Kara Cody, the foundation’s programs director, said the motivation for the initiative was to give back to educators at a time when their jobs have been more difficult than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Park City Education Foundation wanted to respond through programs and opportunities, to show our appreciation and support for not only teachers, but all of our staff that make keeping our schools open possible,” she said.

The initiative launched right before Thanksgiving when the foundation sent the Lucky Ones Coffee camper around to each school in the district, as well as the district office.

From Nov. 20 through Dec. 1, the coffee camper gave out free coffees, hot chocolates and other goodies to over 600 educators.

The program’s funding is generated through donations from the community, Cody said. The foundation paid for the first round of the coffee camper program through donations from Live PC Give PC.

“It was a win-win in the sense that we were able to help out another local business while also helping out our educators,” Cody said.

In order to continue providing wellness programs, the foundation put out a call out to the community for any kinds of discounts, donations, opportunities or programs that could be offered to school district employees as a thank you for continuing to work in person through the pandemic.

The next wellness program is slated to start in February and will be conducted by Jewish Family Service, which is offering a free six-week, virtual mindfulness training course to educators.

The initiative has already had a positive effect on teachers and staff members.

“The end result is that I am inspired to continue to innovate for my students and to be worthy of their trust and support,” Nikolai said.

Park City High School history teacher Jessica Lanoue is also among the many teachers thankful for the program.

“The past 12 months have been a learning experience for all students and teachers,” she said. “The most important message we can send to our students and peers is that we need to be resilient. Having the support of the PC ed foundation and the community is really a great feeling and privilege not to mention a reminder that we are not alone.”

The initiative will continue through the end of the school year, and possibly even into the next year, Cody said, after the foundation saw the positive impact it has had on teachers and staff.

“We will certainly continue to support our students, teachers, a school in any way that is needed,” she said.

Cody said the foundation is grateful for the community support from donors, as well as businesses and organizations offering discounts and opportunities for the school’s staff.

“It really takes a village, and we’re very excited to be a part of that village,” Cody said. “The community has really rallied behind our schools right now, which now really means a lot to teachers and staff.”


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