Park City Education Foundation names recipients of teacher grants
Providing her students with memorable experiences is what Sophie Moffat loves about teaching. The social studies and Spanish teacher at Ecker Hill Middle School often had grand ideas for her classroom, but rarely the means to fund them.
Now, with an $8,560 grant from the Park City Education Foundation, she is able to implement her idea of connecting Park City students to those in a foreign country. The foundation recently announced the recipients of this year’s Teacher Grant Program, and a total of $80,239 was awarded to teachers across Park City School District.
The grant program has taken place at the foundation every year since 1986, said Sara Hutchinson, program manager of the PCEF. She said that the grants are at the heart of the organization.
“It’s really an insight into what the teachers need and also what they are excited about,” she said.
While in the past, the grants were awarded to teachers looking to implement innovative ideas, this year, the foundation decided to expand the mission to also provide funds for teachers asking to expand programs that have been successful in other classrooms, she said.
A total of 26 projects were funded, with the largest grant going to Jordan Ulrich at Park City High School for $10,000. The grant will be used to install a laser computer numerical controlled machine, which produces functional 3-D objects. Ulrich was also awarded $8,650 for a 3-D printer.
Moffat was given a grant to start a Global Conversations program through Level Up Village, an organization that creates and provides global STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) courses to schools. In Moffat’s sixth- and seventh-grade Spanish dual-language immersion classes, students will read the autobiography “I am Malala” in Spanish and participate in video chats with students from a Spanish-speaking country.
Moffat said that she is excited for her students to hear the perspective of students from another country when discussing issues such as equality between men and women, war and poverty.
“I think the kids are going to be blown away,” she said.
The teacher grants are meant to provide learning experiences for students that they normally would not have, Hutchinson said. For example, the foundation also provided $500 to DeEtte Earl from Parley’s Park Elementary School to purchase portable backdrops that can be used for plays. Another $5,000 was awarded to Michelle Torzillo at McPolin Elementary School for cubelets in the library’s makerspace. The cubelets can be arranged to create different robots.
Hutchinson said that there are generally themes that the selection committee of the grants program notices when assessing all of the applications. This year, they seemed to be makerspaces, music/theater and STEM. The trend such as makerspaces, which are collaborative work spaces, is important when it comes to future planning in the Park City School District, Hutchinson said.
“When the district is looking at building a new school or refiguring classrooms, we will be able to have data on how this equipment works and how this project-based learning works,” she said.
Not to mention that some of the grants can turn out to be successful programs that the district picks up, expands and continues to run. That is what Moffat hopes for Global Conversations, which is scheduled to begin in the coming months.
She said that the grant money helps teachers get a little more excited about their jobs with the opportunity to try something new and different.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “With this money, we can dream.”
About $55,000 of the grant fund came from PCEF’s general fund. The remaining $25,039 was provided by private donors, including The Thomas H. and Carolyn L. Fey Family Foundation and Deer Valley Resort.
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The Park City School District offices were inadvertently locked, but security footage was reviewed and the only two community members who showed up were let in and joined in an informal chat with Board of Education members and staff.