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The teachers and specialists in Provo City School District are our innovators. They are innovators, companions, and caretakers. The Provo City School District Foundation wants to recognize and support their efforts to make our schools a better place. This year, we’re speaking to a few around the district who have received mini-grants to ask them about their perceived need, their mini-grant product, the impact of their mini-grant, and lastly, advice for new and struggling professionals on how they can differentiate and extend learning in our schools.

We spoke with Amelia Earhart Elementary School Teacher Natalie Ales about the upcoming school production, Aladdin, and the show’s outfits and props, which are necessary components for Amelia Earhart’s growing drama department. She’s using her mini-grant to purchase materials for said outfits and props, and students and community members are working together to design and build the production components.

Read our conversation below to learn more about how Earhart students are joining the ranks for this year’s production of Aladdin, designing their outfits and props as a community, and creating a spirit of camaraderie day by day.


Q: What was the class issue, or where did you see a perceived need?

A:  So we run a new theater program—it’s our second year—and last year was a huge success. This year, our cast is triple the size. Last year we had 18 students; this year there are 62. We’re trying to put on Aladdin, which is a huge show. We most needed sets and costumes. We hoped to get supplies to help transform into outfits, sets, and everything else.  And, with the grant, students are helping and are a part of that.

Q: How has the mini-grant affected you and your students?

A: The stress was pretty high before. We didn’t have the money. And this gives space for students to help out and experiment and design. They get to be a part of designing art. They’re thinking critically about the show. It’s valuable from an artistic perspective. They’re more involved.

And, just as importantly, the production will look better! Not only can students take ownership of the show, but the kids who watch can enjoy the better production.

Last year, we had an afterschool workshop, and the PTA brought their kids to help make stuff. This year, we’re organizing quicker and sending projects home to interested families to help start design, too.

Q: For new teachers, how can they differentiate or extend learning? How can they create unique classroom experiences for their students through grant writing?

A: I would say to start with something that they’re passionate about. For me, I care about theater; I believe it’s good for kids, and I enjoy it. Any time you have to apply for a grant, it’s work, and that can feel intimidating. If the project is something you’re passionate about, believe it’ll be good for students, and it’s fun for you, that’s the perfect place to start. It allows you to bring your talents and interests into your classroom. You’ll find that it might reach kids in new or different ways. 

Honestly, it’s been as good for me as it has been for the kids. I think we’ve grown together.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei