Park City Education Foundation honors teachers and awards grants
Eight Park City School District teachers were recently honored with the annual Education Foundation Excellent Educator awards. The foundation also handed out $250,000 for classroom grants with the proceeds from this year’s Running with Ed fundraiser.
One teacher from each of the district’s seven schools was honored with an award and $1,500 after being named as an Excellent Educator. Park City Education Foundation Vice President of Advancement Jennifer Billow says the awards started in 1996. The idea for the awards came from a Summit County developer and former member of the Park City Council, Jim Doilney, in honor of his mother. The Louis family joined the financial effort to celebrate educators starting in 2019.
“Each school, the staff, teachers, admin at each school, vote for the person that they think best exemplifies an excellent educator. It can be anyone, as long as it's a full-time position," Billow said. "The winners are the ones that their colleagues think that they have done an amazing job that year. [Having] all of our teachers in Park City School District, we're really lucky. But these [winners] have kind of have risen to the top.”
2022-2023 Excellent Educator recipients:
- Ecker Hill Middle School - Jeff Schwalbe
- Jeremy Ranch Elementary School - Jennica Paterniti
- McPolin Elementary School - Jill Thompson
- Park City High School - Natalie Star
- Parley's Park Elementary School - Jennifer Shane
- Trailside Elementary School - Lesley Rockwood
- Treasure Mountain Junior High - Ryan Duca
Billow says the comments submitted with the votes were especially heart-warming. Like the one for Ecker Hill coach and English teacher Jeff Schwalbe who has been teaching for nearly 30 years. A peer noted that not only has he made an impact this year, but across generations.
For McPolin educator winner Jill Thompson, her colleagues noted her students love coming to school to learn with her and for Park City High School winner Natalie Star who teaches photography, Billow says she’s never seen so many comments for one teacher.
Jennifer Shane was named the excellent educator for Parley’s Park and Billow says Shane has also been nominated by the school district for Utah Teacher of the Year.
The Sarah and Stephen Doilney Award is voted on by the senior class at the high school to honor the most influential educator of their entire school career. Park City High School Spanish teacher George Murphy is this year’s recipient, receiving $2,500.
“The comments for him went on and on and on. But one student said simply, 'The GOAT - greatest of all time,'” she said.
The foundation also awarded its annual classroom grants. Billow says they handed out more than $250,000. These are programs teachers and administrators request for the following school year.
“They're anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars,” Billow said. “I think the biggest one was maybe a $20,000 grant. And they are across all schools and so many different disciplines. There's CTE, Career and Technical Education. So, there's a new baking and pastry class at the high school, intro to physical therapy. There's a drone lab so kids can come out of that class and have a drone certification and make money flying drones and doing drone photography. And lots of arts this year.”
Several of the programs, like robotics, debate and Latinos in Action receive annual grants. Billow says they’re looking at program strategy now to see if there’s a better way to award multi-year grants, so teachers don’t have to ask every year for something the foundation would continue to fund anyway.