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‘Best Day of the Year’ Canyons Education Foundation Surprises Teachers with Nearly $100,000 in Innovation Grants

Thank You to our Generous Donors and Community Partners.
Thank You to our Generous Donors and Community Partners.

As many people focused on Halloween fun last week, it felt more like the season of giving for 21 educators around Canyons School District.

Canyons Education Foundation board members and staff, District dignitaries, and even a city mayor, piled into a school bus laden with balloons and a big surprise for 16 teaching teams throughout the District: $97,000 in Innovation Grants.

“Foundation Grant delivery day is the absolute best day of the year,” External Relations Public Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards said. “It’s neat seeing when the money that the Foundation board raises makes it to the classroom and allows innovative teachers to do extra special things for their students.”

Innovation Grants are awarded annually thanks to generous donations, community partnerships, and support of donors via the Education Foundation’s annual golf tournament at Wasatch Mountain State Park. This year’s tournament raised $98,000.

Individual teachers or teaching teams may apply for funding from $1,000-$10,000. Foundation Board members review the applications — 29 were submitted this year — and award grants based on the project’s educational merit and innovation. Names and schools are redacted from the grant applications for the selection process.


Among the supplies, tools, and technology made possible by this year’s grants: a 3D printer, a powerful telescope, a sensory wall for preschoolers, robotics technology, audiovisual equipment, educational plastic brick sets, automotive and welding tools, coding education, and other STEM supplies and programs.

Part of the ‘Fun Bus’ crew getting ready to make their very special deliveries.

“After all the hard work the Foundation Board and staff put in all year, it’s wonderful to deliver the great news to grant recipients and to see the excitement and emotion on the faces of teachers and students,”

Foundation Development Officer Denise Haycock said. “Getting on the ‘Fun Bus’ and giving out grants is one of the highlights of our year. It feels like we’re on the prize patrol.”

Donata Trussell, Jordan Valley Schools Physical Therapist, being awarded a grant to fund two new adaptive tricycles.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room at Jordan Valley School when Donata Trussell, the school’s physical therapist, found out her grant request had been accepted. Thanks to a $10,000 grant, the special education program will receive two adaptive tricycles to help less-mobile students increase their mobility, range of motion, spatial awareness, strength, and coordination. The trikes really come in handy when students go on walks.

“Thank you. I can’t believe it!” an overwhelmed Trussell exclaimed while being awarded the grant in front of several students and staff. “I am speechless. We really need them. These older ones are falling apart. They are more than 10 years old. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do if one broke. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Foundation Board Member Bill Rappleye, of W.E.R. Enterprises LLC, and Midvale Mayor Robert Hale both gave heartfelt congratulations to Trussell.

“We’re really lucky to have you at this school,” Mayor Hale said.

“I am so touched by today and from visiting your school,” a teary-eyed Rappleye told Trussell. “I can feel the love you have for your students and school. Thank you.”

Teacher applicants who didn’t receive a grant this year are offered alternative options when applicable.

Congratulations to the 2021 Canyons Education Foundation Innovation Grant winners:

  • Christopher Brown, Lynda Mcbride, and Lauren Popp, fifth-grade teachers, Copperview Elementary: $5,403 for sphero robots
  • Randal Clark, fine arts teacher, Corner Canyon High: $9,106 for professional audio and video production equipment
  • Zachary Giddings, instrumental music teacher, Draper Park Middle: $1,959 for digital tuners for band and orchestra
  • RJ Green, Jonathan Kraus, Chris Mackprang, and Taylor Ouimette, Science Department, Corner Canyon High: $2,645 for a telescope
  • Dalton Magee, welding technician instructor, Canyons Technical Education Center: $3,620 for fabrication enhancements
  • Erin Nelson, career and technical education teacher, Corner Canyon High: $10,000 for robotics kits
  • Wendie Nielson, fifth grade teacher, Bella Vista Elementary: $1,849 for 3D printers
  • Tyler Perkins, automotive teacher, Brighton High: $9,786 for automotive shop modernization
  • Louis Sherman, language arts teacher, Diamond Ridge High: $9,997 for video and photography equipment
  • Benjamin Simmons, fine arts teacher, Mount Jordan Middle: $9,992 for digital methods for acoustic problems
  • Lyndsey Sjogren, third grade teacher, Sprucewood Elementary: $5,059 for a STEM-centric program that sparks creativity with circuit connections, design and engineer models, and code games.
  • Mark Snow, career and technical education teacher, Eastmont Middle: $3,165 for robotics kits
  • John Stefanic, science teacher, Eastmont Middle: $7,139 for brick sets that help with critical thinking, literacy, math, and social-emotional development.
  • Donata Trussell, physical therapist, Jordan Valley School: $10,000 for adaptive tricycles
  • Heidi Vincent, second grade teacher, Silver Mesa Elementary: $2,543 for math manipulatives
  • Courtney White, preschool teacher, Bella Vista Elementary: $3,798 for sensory wall

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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