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The City Journals

Scoring for Schools grants a boon to special needs preschool

Apr 29, 2019 11:22AM ● By Jet Burnham

Grant money was spent by new preschool teacher Stephanie Gesualdo on classroom supplies such as colorful manipulatives for students to use on a light table. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Local teachers, whose budgets are limited, were thrilled when Real Salt Lake owner, Dell Loy Hansen, announced he was funding $250 grants to every teacher in Jordan, Canyons and Alpine school districts who applied for his Scoring for Schools grant.

“My teachers were so thankful to be able to get resources they needed for their classrooms without spending their own money, as they often do,” said Butterfield Canyon Principal Amanda Bollinger. “Every single one of our teachers applied for and received a supplies grant from RSL. Our school had over $11,000 in donations through the grants.”

Teachers at Midas Creek Elementary purchased items such as books, games and wobble stools with their Scoring for Schools grant money, said Principal Megan Cox.

The grant was a welcome boon for teachers with limited annual budgets.

Heather Johnson, speech therapist for the special needs preschool at Bastian Elementary, has an annual budget of just $300. She depends on outside funding to supply her students with engaging activities.

“I had written two grants at the beginning of the year, and they didn’t get funded,” said Johnson. She was thrilled to learn about the RSL grant because the process was easy, and it had guaranteed funds.

Johnson used her $250 to purchase three story-based STEM kits that she had yearned to buy for a few years.

“There’s a wide range of things that I know I could do with these, but because all of them together was $200, it’s something I wouldn’t be able to have,” said Johnson.

Bettina Espinosa, a preschool teacher at Bastian, has tried to request classroom funding through online fundraising programs, which take a lot of work to keep on top of. With an already huge workload of special education paperwork, she said she couldn’t keep up with promoting her requests on social media and with frequent emails.

“I’ve tried to get funded for the past three years with no success,” said Espinosa. “The REAL one was so smooth, and it went really fast.” The RSL grant only required a one-page application and had a turn-around of just a few weeks.

With the RSL grant and a perfectly timed sale, Espinosa was able to order a circle time carpet that her students use for motor movement games, learning shapes and colors, and practicing personal space boundaries and body control.

“We were so excited to get it,” she said. “We use it a lot within our day.” 

For Stephanie Gesualdo, who just started teaching preschool at Bastian this school year, the RSL grant allowed her to build up her supplies of basic materials. She purchased jumbo magnetic letters, dry erasable paper pockets, molding foam for sensory exploration and manipulatives to use on her homemade light table. The materials she purchased provide a wider variety of ways her students can learn and explore.

“It was nice to be able get more things in my classroom that I don’t have,” she said.