School district foundation presents grants to Washington County teachers, awards millionth dollar

ST. GEORGE — The Washington County School District Foundation presented every teacher at Bloomington Elementary School with a grant up to $500 for learning supplies on Wednesday. Now in its tenth year, the foundation will award its millionth dollar this year. 

The foundation will be presenting more grants to teachers across the district in the coming weeks and will be awarding more than $353,000 this year with the help of local businesses including Paparazzi Accessories and Tom’s Mechanical. The foundation is awarding more grant money this year than they did in their first seven years combined, said Steven Dunham, school district communications director.

“It’s been a hard year,” Dunham said. “These wonderful businesses in our community have stepped up and given so much to allow us to do this. So we’re just trying to give everybody a shot in the arm as we kick off 2021 and start the year off on the right foot.”

More than 760 teachers in the district will receive grants before the end of February, Dunham said, but not every teacher applied for one. At Bloomington Elementary, every teacher applied for a grant so they could buy supplies ranging from literacy materials to math activities. The foundation was able to find sponsors for all of them, and on Wednesday each teacher was given a big check, a Bundt cake and a $25 gift certificate to Paparazzi. Bloomington Elementary teachers were awarded about $14,400 total this year, Dunham said.

The grant money will be a big help to all the teachers, Brian Everett, a fifth grade math teacher, told St. George News. Some teachers often apply for grants like this and don’t always get the assistance they need, so having the grant is a big deal, he added. 

Bloomington Elementary School teacher Brian Everett accepts a grant from the Washington County School District Foundation at Bloomington Elementary School in St. George, Utah, Jan. 20, 2021 | Photo by Megan Webber, St. George News.

“I really appreciate the support from the community and helping us to provide stuff for our students that otherwise we might not be able to,” he said.

For many teachers, a few hundred dollars can go a long way, said Connor Shakespeare, owner of Tom’s Mechanical in St. George. Just a little investment into local classrooms has visible effects in the community, he said. 

“We did it because it directly affects the classrooms, and having kids in our own homes that attend these schools, their friends, our employees’ kids, we know it’s a big impact that directly impacts the students, so we’ve always been very fortunate that we can contribute and give back.”

Laura Bautista, a reading interventionist, has been teaching at Bloomington Elementary for several years but just started a new position and didn’t have a lot of the materials she needed for her students. The support from the foundation will mean a lot to her and her colleagues, she said. 

“As a teacher, you put so much of your own money into your classroom,” she said. “So having other people donate so you can purchase things that you need, it really means a lot. It really shows teachers that there are people out there who care and are appreciative of what we do every day for the kids in our community.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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