Kimie Snapp, a Springville resident and teacher at Merit College Preparatory Academy, not only loves teaching health, but she also has a passion for dancing. With a background in dance company and ballroom dancing, Snapp is the perfect teacher for these classes.
"She is always here and happy," said Kim Mitchell, MCPA Director, speaking about Snapp. "She is always making sure her students have opportunities and they are exposed to as much as she can provide for them."
This is Snapp's second year as dance company instructor, and her first year as ballroom instructor. Each student in her performing arts classes is charged a $75 fee to be in the class. That covers the cost of travels, performances and costumes.
"I try to make that $75 go as far as I can, but with the cost of costumes, it doesn't go very far," said Snapp. "We perform four to five different dances a year, so it is hard to stretch that amount."
The dance room, which was the former library, has been remodeled and new hardwood floors have been installed. Last year, new wall fans and a few mirrors were added to the room. Snapp's next goal is to get more mirrors to cover the walls -- which costs roughly $1,000 -- and a new speaker system.
"I am so grateful that I have what I have," said Snapp. "But my goal is to continue to work towards making this an amazing room."
In September, Snapp applied for a national grant through the Association of American Educators Foundation. She was awarded that grant in October and plans to split the $500 between her dance company and beginning ballroom classes.
"I am excited and honored to have received this grant," said Snapp. "Anything helps when it comes to purchasing costumes for my students. I want them to feel just as special as the schools that they compete against, and to have the confidence to go out there and shine."
The Association of American Educators Foundation is a nonprofit charitable foundation that provides the public and public school teachers with educational information to help reform and improve the education of America's youth. The national scholarship and grant competition is held twice a year in the fall and spring and is open to all educators.
AAEF is committed to offering individual educators various avenues for improving effectiveness in the classroom.
"AAEF commends the dedication that Ms. Snapp has demonstrated in securing funding for her school," said Gary Beckner, AAEF chairman, in a news release. "These scholarships and grants are an investment in empowering teachers as professionals across the country."
Snapp tries to give her students as many opportunities as she can to experience any kind of performing arts in and around the area. Last February, she took the dance company class to the State High School Dance Festival in Park City, and the next festival will be held in February 2014 at Brigham Young University in Provo.
"I loved seeing the look on their faces of excitement as they performed," said Snapp. "Artists come from all over to teach these dancers, and it was so neat to see us there and know that we came from a small community, yet we were as special as the other schools."
Snapp not only loves to dance herself, but she also loves to be able to share that gift with her students. What thrills her is to watch her students take off with the excitement of learning and find talents they didn't know they had. Her current dance company includes nine girls and four boys, ranging in age from seventh to twelfth grade.
"I truly am so proud of each of them and to watch them grow is so rewarding to me," said Snapp.
Merit Academy is a college preparatory academy in Utah County, focusing on preparing students to attend college and fulfill their civic and social responsibilities. The school currently has 284 students attending. For more information on the school or how to help with donating to help the dance company please call the school at (801) 491-7600 or visit their website at www.MeritAcademy.org.