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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.

The Foundation awards mini-grants to deserving district teachers each year. To receive the grant, teachers must submit a two-page application detailing their concept for an innovative project to their classroom or school. After receiving the completed application, the Provo School District Foundation Selection Committee picks the mini-grant recipients for the year.

It’s a process that isn’t required of teachers, but each year, many go the extra mile for their students.

This year, we’re speaking to a few teachers who have received mini-grants to ask them about their classroom’s perceived need, their mini-grant product, the classroom impact of their mini-grant, and lastly, advice for new and struggling teachers on how they can differentiate and extend learning in their classrooms.

We spoke with Provost Elementary’s Media Specialist, Kirsti Kirkland, this week about her grant that will be used to purchase Spanish versions of Battle of the Books titles and other popular reads. Some of the students in Provost who speak Spanish as their primary language wanted to do the Battle of the Books but felt unable to because they didn’t have access to the books in their native language. That’s where her mini-grant application comes in; with the new books, students can engage with programs like Battle of the Books that encourage literacy and student camaraderie. Read our conversation below to learn more about the effect of his mini-grant and her advice for other new teachers looking to extend or differentiate learning in their classrooms.


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

A: We have a lot of multilingual students here, and some are brand new and don’t speak any English. A while ago, I was starting our Battle of the Books program, and I had a lot of students who were multilingual come to me and ask if they would be a part of it. I started picking up those books in Spanish, and they joined the battle of the books. 

I wanted the mini grant to be prepared for next year and get all of the Battle of the Books titles in Spanish. I also talked to the 6th grade teachers and asked about the titles their kids were reading in book clubs. That way, multilingual students can use the English version and the Spanish version side by side. 

Q: What kind of impact does having the same text to read as the others have on the kids?

A: lot of these kids are really good readers in Spanish; they just have a hard time reading the English text. Having the option to read the same books as the other kids gives them a chance to really feel like they fit in. Talking to them, they really want to belong; they just don’t know how. This is a built-in system where, if we can include them, they’re a part of something. 

Q: What advice would you offer new teachers looking to extend learning in the classroom like you have?

A: Notice the needs first. Look at your students and see what they’re reading and what they aren’t. Look at who is participating and who isn’t. What programs are you doing, and can everyone join? Or are there barriers that are preventing some who want to participate? Talk to your students and find out what they want.

Alexander Glaves
  • Social Media/Marketing Specialist
  • Alexander Glaves