Ogden School District teachers surprised with grant money during class

Monday , October 03, 2016 - 3:49 PM1 comment

OGDEN — Tina Mathewson’s class of fifth grade students was almost as excited as she was when members of the Ogden School District Foundation surprised her with a $1,000 check Monday morning.

Mathewson, who teaches IT, language arts and science at Wasatch Elementary School, said she’s going to use the grant to buy four or five Chromebooks for her kids.

“Many of our computers are old and some don’t work, so when we go to do a project, to be able to have computers for these students is huge. It’s getting them ready for high school,” she said.

Mathewson was one of many teachers surprised with a big check and balloons Monday morning as the district’s “surprise patrols” gave out a total of $283,000.

“Oh, it’s been a party,” board Secretary Dave Dunn said as his surprise patrol teammate Tyler Peterson wrangled a cluster of blue and yellow balloons.

This year, 126 teachers in the district received individual grants funding everything from basic school supplies to larger purchases, like Mathewson’s Chromebooks, according to data provided by Foundation Coordinator Renae Woods.

Woods said teachers can apply for innovation grants, impact grants and mini grants. The principals at every school can also apply for a priority grant of up to $6,000.

Wasatch also received a $4,000 priority grant for a visual arts program.

Principal Donna Corby said Deb Allred, a former Wasatch third-grade teacher, creates art lessons for students based on curriculum standards, and the money will go toward her salary and supplies.

“You absolutely can’t have a well-balanced child unless you go after those arts, so we push it here,” Corby said.

Other examples of grant proposals throughout the district include a teacher who wanted to build a fish tank in his room to show students the life cycle of a trout indigenous to Utah and steam tables for a food service class at Ben Lomond High School.

“They have some really awesome ideas that just wouldn't work in the regular school budget,” Woods said.

The grant money is raised by the foundation throughout the year. Woods said grants have been given out for about the last decade, but according to Standard-Examiner archives, the surprise patrol visits were a new addition in 2013. Over the last five years alone, the foundation has given out $1.1 million dollars.

Wasatch media center staff member Sara Shupe was also presented with grant to buy nonfiction books, in place of Paula Stuart, who wasn’t at school yet Monday morning.

Dunn said the check was for $999.67 because in order to apply, the librarians had to list every book they intended to purchase, find two places to buy it and select the cheapest.

“We were not about to waste one penny,” Shupe said.

Shupe credited Stuart with getting students interested in nonfiction through her collections of seashells, rocks and butterflies.

“She started out with a theme and the kids would add to it,” Shupe said. “They were so excited to read something new about the objects, the things they’re learning about.”

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports.

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