REAL Salt Lake’s goal to support Utah teachers scores big in Jordan School DistrictMar 25, 2019 03:55PM ● By Jet Burnham
Professional soccer players hand out T-shirts to first-graders at Terra Linda Elementary. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
It was just like Christmas morning for teachers in Jordan District. A total of 978 elementary school teachers received a box full of items from their classroom supply wish list.
REAL Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen donated $283,700 to fund the teachers’ wish lists through the Jordan Education Fund (JEF). Hansen has given over $30 million to education in the last 20 years and wanted a way to directly support teachers, said Mary Van Minde, RSL director of community relations and executive director of the RSL Foundation.
“He knows with these young learners today, there’s so many distractions—bells and whistles—that teachers deserve the best tools to teach these kids,” said Van Minde.
The funding was set up as a grant with little paperwork or red tape to navigate. Working with JEF, RSL was able to provide requested items with a quick turnaround time.
“We decided to do this in January, and here we are with the supplies in the teachers’ hands in February,” said Van Minde.
Every teacher received $250 to purchase items that may have taken years for them to acquire on their own. They purchased items such as puppets, ukuleles, butterflies, PE equipment, flat screen TVs and books.
Teachers at Oquirrh Elementary opened the boxes containing their gifts in front of their students. Ariana Miskin’s second-graders shrieked with glee as she showed them the Chutes and Ladders, Candyland and Connect 4 board games that would be added to their classroom shelves.
Fifth-graders found bean bags in the two large boxes that arrived in Kristen Dutcher’s classroom.
Ron Kelly used his grant to invest in magnetic tiles and building sets for his first-grade classroom.
“I wanted them to be able to allow the children to see an object and build it both in the two- and three-dimension form,” said Kelly. “We study three-dimensional shapes in class, and the kids have no way to explore and see it visually.”
Kelly has been wanting to buy tiles and blocks like this for the past three years.
“The biggest difficulty of purchasing them was the fact that they were not books or more curriculum-oriented,” he said. “Because the grant was so flexible, I was able to take advantage of this opportunity.”
One classroom received an erosion table; another received materials to enrich the life of their class pet, a hermit crab.
Every teacher at Oquirrh Elementary took advantage of the grant, which totaled $10,534 in supplies for 34 teachers.
All schools in Alpine, Jordan and Canyons school districts were invited to apply for the grant, which would enrich the learning of 92,000 Utah students, said Van Minde.
Students at Terra Linda Elementary are already huge soccer fans. They receive soccer skills clinics through a partnership with 7 Elite Soccer Academy. They enthusiastically welcomed RSL to their school twice. Kyle Schroeder, director of community relations for RSL, Utah Royals and Real Monarchs, announced the grant at an assembly in January and came back again in March with professional soccer players who handed out team T-shirts, advice, and free tickets to an RSL game.
Many teachers at Terra Linda used their grant money to replace and restock classroom supplies.
Melanie Nixon’s $250 was spent to replace worn-out white boards which she had originally purchased with her own money at the beginning of her teaching career. She also invested in privacy offices, which she said are very expensive. She hopes these materials will improve the classroom environment for her fifth-graders.
“I’m just trying to increase engagement and focus in my classroom,” she said.
Kaylyn Mueske inherited broken and incomplete science supplies when she started teaching at Terra Linda. Her grant money purchased magnets, copper wiring and other items for conducting experiments.
“We have some pretty awesome science units that we just didn’t have the materials to do the experiments and things we wanted to do,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to restock those supplies.”
Terra Linda Principal Karen Gorringe said 100 percent of her teachers applied for the grant to bring $7,000 worth of new supplies into the school.
“It’s made a huge difference,” she said. “I’ve seen tons of smiles this spring on teachers’ faces.”