Utah credit unions donate to 3 Alpine School District schools

Sherry Shepherd and her kindergarten class play a music themed game on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at Manila Elementary School in Pleasant Grove. Shepherd was recently awarded a $1500 grant that she used to order new percussion instruments for her various classes.

The "100% for Kids" Education Foundation gave grants to three Alpine School District schools to provide more education enrichment materials for classrooms.

The 100% for Kids program awarded a total of $4,250 in grant money divided between the three schools.

Meadow Elementary School in Lehi received $1,250 for projectors and document cameras. Shelley Elementary School in American Fork and Manila Elementary School in Pleasant Grove were each awarded $1,500 for their school music programs.

"The 100% for Kids Foundation was formed by the Utah Credit Union Association with a mission to improve education in Utah by enhancing and expanding classroom level resources and programs," said Liz White, 100% for Kids Foundation director.

According to White, the foundation has donated more than $5 million since it was founded in 2002, contributing to each of Utah's 40 school districts.

White, who has been director of the 100% for Kids program since 2010, said that the foundation reviews grant applications with the goal of selecting those that will aid the largest number of students in the greatest ways.

Applications are judged monthly by a board of volunteers comprised of both credit union professionals and educators, and grants are awarded quarterly.

"The reason it started was that often there is a definite gap between what teachers really need and what is available to them beyond just basic supplies. We want to help fill that gap. It's a really great way for credit unions to get involved in their communities," White said.

As the student population at Meadow Elementary School in Lehi nears 1,300, the school has added two new teaching positions. Kerri Hundley, an assistant administrator at Meadow Elementary School, wrote the grant application requesting funds to provide those two new teachers with document cameras and projectors.

"We are really excited to be able to provide for the technology needs of the teachers. It is such a crucial part of educating students today," Hundley said.

Other classrooms at Meadow are already equipped with similar technology, but the new cameras will be smaller and more portable than those currently in use. The document cameras give teachers the capability to tape lessons and put them on web sites for students to review or make-up missed classes. The cameras also eliminate the need to transfer visual aids onto transparencies for use with overhead projectors. Used with the cameras, the new projectors can enlarge and project any document or photo onto the classroom whiteboard.

"It just makes teaching so much more efficient. We can project even small objects on the whiteboard, move the camera around, show things in 3-D, show students' own work, plug into video clips, and use online instruction," Hundley said.

According to White, the 100% for Kids program gives priority to grants that fund core curriculum programs in reading, writing and math.

Arts programs that benefit a large number of students have also been awarded grants. Both Shelley Elementary School in American Fork and Manila Elementary School in Pleasant Grove received grants for their school music programs.

"We are so grateful that there are entities out there that do support the arts for the benefit of our children," said Cheree Davis, Shelley Elementary School music specialist.

Davis teaches music to 900 students per week and said when she took over as music specialist six years ago, her music equipment consisted mostly of worn cassette tapes from the 1980s.

The grant money will help purchase percussion instruments for the fifth and sixth graders.

"The grant has been a life-saver. It opens up exciting opportunities to expose our students to multiple rhythms, bells, maracas, and all kinds of percussion," Davis said.

Both Shelley Elementary School and Manila Elementary School are implementing the Core Music for Kids program that emphasizes a specific feature of music for each grade.

According to Sherry Shepherd, music specialist for Manila Elementary School, students enjoy their own grade's music specialty while looking forward to the unique program for each higher grade. Kindergarten students and first-graders sing; second-graders perform a musical play; third-graders learn music notation; fourth-graders play recorders; fifth-graders play ukuleles; and sixth-graders learn rhythm by playing percussion instruments. The 100% for Kids grant will help buy percussion instruments for Manila Elementary School.

"I'm very grateful for the grant, and the kids are really excited. I feel so fortunate to be involved in this. I raised my kids in California where there was no music in the schools, and I've subbed in many schools with no music instruction," Shepherd said.

Both Shepherd and Davis credited Amy Cutler, founder of Core Music for Kids, with helping them through the grant process.

"She told me about the credit union program and helped me know what to do," said Davis.

White said that more and more educators are learning about the 100% for Kids Utah Credit Union Education Foundation grants and proposing creative ways to improve education with the grant funds.

"We are getting more applications every year. It's great to be able to help educators do more for their students," said White.

For more information, or to apply for a grant, go to 100percentforkids.org.