CLEARFIELD -- An artist-in-residence program at a local school nearly came to a halt this year when funding for the program was pulled from the budget.
The second-grade teachers at Wasatch Elementary School in Clearfield have seen the enormous benefits their students have received from the program over the past five years, so they rallied to find funding to continue the program.
The school has a professional artist help the students design and paint animal pictures on 16-inch-by-20-inch canvases.
"When we found out we didn't have the funds, we just had to find money, so we applied for grants," said Denice Maedgen, one of the second-grade teachers at Wasatch Elementary.
"If we couldn't get money, we would have paid for it out of our pockets because this program is that important to us."
The teachers applied for and received a grant from the Davis Education Foundation, so at least for this program, the teachers didn't have to spend their salaries for the supplies.
Teachers in Davis School District on average spend $1,500 to $2,000 of their own money for supplies for their classrooms, said Brent Severe, director of the Davis Education Foundation.
"Considering the financial strain already on our 5,000 teachers serving nearly 68,000 students in our district, that is a lot of extra money," he said.
The Davis Education Foundation board, made up of local business leaders, believes the arts help give children a more rounded education, Severe said.
He added that the foundation is eager to support the arts, as evidenced by the recent grant for the artist-in-resident program at Wasatch Elementary.
With the grant from the foundation board, the teachers and second-grade students are able to continue their painting program.
"The kids get a sense of pride in accomplishing something and being able to see a finished product," Maedgen said.
For Kalaina Vasquez, a second-grader at the school, the experience was a first.
"It made me feel excited, because I haven't painted a real picture before," she said.
"I also learned that, when you paint, the paintbrush is a tool because it made us paint good."
Kristen Kapp, a professional graphic designer, is the artist who came in to work with the students. She has been involved with this program in schools for 10 years, visiting eight to 10 schools a year.
To her, the experience is more than just teaching kids about art.
"At the end of the day, they feel like little artists, and they feel really good about themselves," Kapp said.
For all involved in the experience, the benefits are worth the extra money.
Celia Furlong, the second-grade teacher who headed up the program five years ago at Wasatch Elementary, said they had no idea of the side results that would come with the experience.
"The kids just flourish because they want to write about it, and it helps us stay on task for our end-of-level testing," she said.
"We didn't realize the benefit for writing and wanting to learn more about art."
For the Davis Education Foundation, experiences like this are what keeps members helping schools.
For example, when many elementary students go to the symphony, Severe said, "for a lot of them, it's the only time they'll ever go to the symphony."