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The employees of Provo City School District are the lifeblood of the district. The Foundation recognizes the great work performed every day by each of these individuals and strives to support them whenever possible. Without their work in our schools each and every day, our students would not receive the high-quality education that they deserve.

The Foundation awarded 16 mini-grants this year! In order to receive these mini-grants, teachers submit a two-page application explaining their idea for an innovative project to use in their classroom or school. The completed applications are then sent to the Provo School District Foundation Selection Committee, which then decides the mini-grant recipients for the year.

Winners are awarded up to $500 in order to fund their project and are expected to write a brief report describing the project’s outcome.

View these teachers being awarded LIVE on our District Facebook page

Congratulations to the 2020 Mini-Grant Winners!

Kayleen Dewey, Leilani Nautu, Niki Larson, Amelia Earhart Elementary

“Audio Books Aide Below-level Readers” With this grant, these fifth-grade teachers will purchase 10 personal audio recordings of 5th-grade level stories for below-level readers to support their reading growth. Fifth graders who read below grade level are very sensitive to what their peers are reading. By giving students access to grade-level novels that they are motivated to read, and providing scaffolded support with the audio, these students develop a love for the stories and have their reading skills enhanced while enabled to engage in conversations with on-level peers. Research confirms that students learn vocabulary best through reading books, and audiobooks will expose them to many more words.

Megan Speer, Centennial Middle School 

“Expanding Reading Power” Reading for pleasure is one of the number one indicators of academic success. Having exciting books in class helps teachers incorporate them into their lessons, as well as “Book Talks” that introduce students to books they might not have picked up otherwise. A variety of books is important for these students as well. Graphic novels can be great for reluctant readers and a gateway to reading chapter books. “I think this project is innovative because some students do not have different types of books available to them,” said Speer. “Even though graphic novels and audiobooks are becoming more prevalent, and even though new contemporary books are of course released all the time.” These are the experiences students need to form their own reader identities.    

Zoey Holley, Dixon Middle School

“Novel UniVerse” This grant was awarded to buy several class sets of novels written in free verse poetry. Along with these books, group projects and poetry open-mic night will be set up (safety and health permitting).   

Julie Hagen and Mylee Reid, Dixon Middle School

“New Books for Classroom Libraries” Dixon has many at-risk students who are ELLs, Sped, low SES students, or struggling readers who do not have many books at home. The two women who applied for this grant noticed that students like to check out “trendy” books–graphic novels, high-interest nonfiction, and new releases, and wanted to add more of these books to the classroom libraries. Letting students choose their own books is important, but they are also aware that many struggling readers have a hard time “committing” to a book enough to check it out of the library. They want to incentivize the students by purchasing more titles based on Netflix series, YouTubers, and movies. By using book talks, read-arounds, and flipgrid book discussions, students listen to each other and get suggestions from their peers about good books. (And at this age, we have learned that they listen to each other more than adults sometimes!) 

Dina Driggs, Edgemont Elementary

“Ipads for Robots”  Coding is the career path of the future. Dina Driggs teaches coding in her third-grade class to encourage and enlighten them on what jobs are available in the future. It fits perfectly with the STEAM curriculum. Students love making the robots follow their commands and maneuvering them. It is easy to evaluate the success of this project by how well students are able to program and execute coding commands on the robots. Their experiences will be incorporated into several ELA writing assignments. Text that explains how they were able to program their robot using transitional words, first, then, next, etc. A series of writing assignments is possible as they progress in their coding skills. There are all kinds of mathematical ties as they look for patterns in writing code, giving direction commands, looping, and programming.

Katie Leishman, Franklin Elementary

“Sensory and Adaptability Tools” The new Utah Health Standards for kindergarten, Strand 2: Mental and Emotional Health states that “students will identify emotions and how to appropriately react to different emotions.” Strand 6: Human Development, states that students will learn how to interact with others appropriately, specifically by explaining “different methods for keeping the developing body safe and healthy” (K.HD.2).

Franklin wants their students engaged in classroom activities as much as possible! Disruptive behavior impacts student learning on an individual level, as well as a classroom level. This project will help us create an intentional space for students to have their needs met, without having to leave the classroom. The Franklin student population is highly impacted and considered “At Risk.” Factors related to this environment include instability, transience, neglect, emotional neglect, and lack of access to proper health care. Many times these teachers have students that have never been to school before, and the stress of a new situation in addition to the previous factors listed, as well as a lack of emotional regulation skills, leads to acting out. 

They will use the funding to purchase sensory tools for the 3 kindergarten classes at our school:  Sensory path (for either classroom or hallway) Wobble stools Chair bouncers Vibrating pillow Reversible sequin pillow Sensory pencil grips Time Timers We will use these materials based on individual student needs, in order to create appropriate learning environments for students struggling in the typical classroom environment. Fitness/Health


Jed Patrick, Independence High School

“Translating the Digital to Physical ” With this year being the way it is, Mr. Patrick has been exploring the computer science course for students to have more “hands-on” methods for problem-solving. More specifically, he wants to give students the opportunity to experiment with digital products and 3D printing. He is using the grant funding to buy hardware, software training, and 3d printing supplies.   

Olivia Carter, Lakeview Elementary

“Diversity Books for Lakeview Library” Olivia Carter is purchasing books to add cultural and social diversity to the Lakeview library catalog including non-fiction books focused on Latino, Pacific Islander, and Native American cultures and people. These will include the main characters of diverse backgrounds, countries, needs, and families. They also hope to broaden their non-fiction sections by purchasing books in our countries, religions, and biography sections that will be inclusive to our diverse student population as well. Those books would mostly fill out our 900 dewey section (history, geography, biographies etc) and our 200 dewey section (world religions section). Which will also reflect our student populations with differing abilities, skills, and health requirements.     

Logan McKinney, Lakeview Elementary School 

“Cultural Connections” To Logan McKinney, music is a universal language, essentially meaning that every human culture has some form of musical expression. Even societies in the Amazon or certain islands of the Indian Ocean that have no conception of zero as a mathematical principle or even any semblance of a written language will always have a thriving form of musical creation, expression, and transmission. While collecting songs for students to sing from a wide array of cultures is relatively easy, the acquisition of instruments from many cultures can be more problematic. The purpose of this project will be to purchase instruments from multiple cultures to allow students to have a more meaningful and authentic experience with cultures that may be outside of their own. Native American rattles, Chinese tam-tams, Central African kalimbas, Italian ocarinas, French Shanti carillon chimes, and Japanese shamisens will all help to infuse deeper meaning into the cultural experience of the students.

Our program already utilizes songs from more than ten different languages (English, Spanish, French, Norwegian, Creek Indian, Mandarin, Japanese, Portuguese, Haliwa-Saponi, Jamaican Patois, and on). Through the addition of instruments indigenous to these musical traditions, the students will be able to interact with the music in a more authentic and meaningful way. Through engaging deeply with the musical traditions of another culture, the students will be able to broaden their views and come to better understand their own musical traditions and cultural norms. It is one thing to perform the Creek Indian Duck Dance, accompanied by one’s own singing. However, when a Buffalo Drum and authentic Creek rattle are joined, the musical experience takes on an entirely different significance. We expect to see more cultural awareness from the students expressed in their choices of study and individual presentations. We also expect to see a shift in social-emotional relations within the school, as students come to see the beauty in the differences from many cultures. The success of the project will be evaluated in the ability of the students to identify aspects of certain musical cultures and effectively compare and contrast the musical traditions of different groups of people and how those differences and similarities have interacted with each other on the world stage.    

 Amanda Spear, Provost Elementary

“Class Novel Sets” The funds will be used to purchase class sets of novels that will be shared between all three 5th grade classes at Provost Elementary. With the rest of the grant, Spear plans on buying additional class sets of books which include: The City of Ember, The Giver, The BFG, and Number the Stars.

 Audrey West, Spring Creek Elementary

“Dissecting Pellets for Science” The funding in this grant will be used to purchase owl pellet dissection kits and PPE (goggles, masks, aprons, and gloves) for an entire grade level. In her classroom, students learn about animals, life cycles, habitats, and environmental responsibility. This project will be a culmination of literacy and science units that teach about those topics. Including the relationship between predator and prey, vocabulary, and conversational skills.      

Julianna Gylseth, Spring Creek Elementary

“It’s Zoom Time: Creating Sound Stories on Zoom”

In an effort to represent wider diversity in our classroom literature, Julianna would like to purchase children’s literature books that explore musical experiences that children have around the world. They will then dramatize them on zoom using musical instruments, and creating original songs. Musical instruments will be purchased to help create the stories in a recorded zoom setting. Items to be purchased:

Children’s Literature Books Tito Puente – Mambo King by Monica Brown  Pepe And the Parade: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage by Tracey Kyle  How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend by Jerrie Oughton  Listen to Our World by Bill Martin Jr.  I Got the Rhythm  I took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pickney 

Instruments Ocean Drum  Vibraslap  Flexatone  Handheld Bell Tree  Quack Stick  Baby Frog Rasp  Sandblocks  Steel Tongue Drum – Sound Shape Pack 

  Allison Ferguson, Timpanogos Elementary

“Coding with Micro: Bits” To help the students gain basic coding skills, and to get them excited about the many career opportunities in computer science, the funds from this grant will be used to buy coding bits. Each 5th-grade class will rotate through a session of the micro: bits/computer science unit, where they will learn about basic coding using the micro: bits and the online simulators. Initially, they will be working in pairs and then teams, deciding on how to write the code, then testing it and together problem-solving to fix their code so the micro: bit will do what they are assigned. The students will be evaluated on whether their code produces their desired result if their idea/invention works, and if they were able to fix any problems in the code.  

Megan Anderson, Wasatch Elementary

“Mirco: bits” Due to COVID-19 students may not be able to focus as much on coding. So, Megan Anderson is looking for a way to make it feasible for students to do at home and in the classroom. The school has a set of Micro:bits that are shared between two grade levels, but time to practice is limited and students need to be able to access it outside of the classroom. With the funds, she will purchase the basic kit for each of student that relate to science, language arts, math, and social studies. Since students are able to use a Chromebook at home they just need the micro:bits to practice their coding skills. With the use of micro:bit,, and scratch students will have a greater foundation of computer science and the resource makes the skill hands-on.

Jennifer Frame, Westridge Elementary

“Making Blended Learning Accessible to ALL” Blended Learning and accessing learning through technology is critical this year. “This would enhance my instruction and my students learning – and also bridge learning between home and school,” said Frame.  SeeSaw has a great Community component, that involves parents in their student’s learning. Not only will students be able to upload video and audio recordings of their readings/writings/thinkings, but teachers can have instant access to students’ work – as well as their parents. Headphones with microphones will help facilitate that process.

Callie Gallacher, Westridge Elementary

“Project: Resilience” The funding will be used to purchase picture books for bibliotherapy and materials for activities that will help students to process emotions associated with grief, anxiety, divorce, and other major life changes.

“As we’ve all seen and experienced, this year has been a difficult and stressful year and it has affected our students’ emotional well-being as well,” stated Gallacher. 

“I have curriculums to address these three areas of need but the activities that help the student(s) to process their emotions are usually activity-based and often require a variety of picture books and supplies. Elementary-age children are better able to process their feelings through stories, art-based, play-based and experiential activities rather than solely talk therapy. In the past, I have helped classrooms to have a class “calm down kit” for all students to use. Due to COVID, we are unable to have shared items so I would like to buy items for individual kits.”

“As students learn to identify their feelings and develop effective coping skills, I expect their emotional well-being to improve which will positively affect their behavior, interactions with others, academic performance, and attendance. Success will be evaluated through my direct observations, client report, # of referrals to the PAWS (LRR) room, feedback provided by the child’s parent and teacher, and when possible, surveys periodically administered to track progress.”            

Shauna Sprunger
  • Coordinator of Communications
  • Shauna Sprunger