Mountain America awards Phoenix Day School for the Deaf with education grant to transform students’ learning experiences - AZEdNews
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Mountain America awards Phoenix Day School for the Deaf with education grant to transform students’ learning experiences


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  • Heidi Lynn Camacho   |   Mountain America Credit Union

Teacher Kylee Craven, Far Right, Accepts A Grant From Mountain America Credit Union With The Principal And Staff Of Phoenix Day School For The Deaf. Photo Courtesy Mountain America Credit Union

For the fifth year in a row, Mountain America Credit Union awarded $15,000 in education grants to enhance classroom learning for students K-12 in Arizona, Idaho and Utah.  

“This will help create lasting memories and ultimately enhance my students’ classroom experience so much. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity,” said Kylee Craven, a kindergarten schoolteacher at Phoenix Day School for the Deaf in Arizona.

Craven was one of nine teachers who received up to $1,500 in education grants from Mountain America Credit Union to help fund their classroom needs for the 2021-22 school year. 

“As teachers, we worry so much about creating an engaging learning environment and having extra funds to do that helps us enormously,” said Craven. 

Craven explained that the grant will help her continue to provide a quality education program for her students ages 5-6 who are either deaf or hard of hearing.  

Video: 2021 Educational Grants from Mountain America Credit Union

“Deaf students are, by nature, visual, kinesthetic learners,” she said. “Every student who comes through my door and experiences a room transformation will get to learn through experiences they will remember forever.” 

This semester, kindergarteners will be transported to a farm-themed classroom.  “With the grant, we purchased manipulatives, decorations, lesson materials, and so much more that will help us transform the classroom into a different interactive and experiential learning periodically throughout the year. In the past, we have created room transformations such as Glow Day, Construction Day and now Farm Day,” she described. 

The setup also consists of barn doors made with bulletin board paper and paint. Hay bales and inflatable animals also help set the scene and allow students to be whisked away to a farm to learn about animals and their habitats. Themes will rotate throughout the year to increase students’ academic experience. 

In addition to numerous classroom transformations, she explained that the funds will also be used for other types of hands-on educational activities.  

Mountain America awards Phoenix Day School for the Deaf with education grant to transform students’ learning experiences Mountain-America-Credut-Union-Kylee-Craven-and-Studets-in-Classroom-1024x684
Phoenix Day School For the Deaf Teacher Kylee Craven and her students learn in her Farm Day themed classroom. Photo courtesy Mountain America Credit Union

Shortly after receiving the news that the school was selected as a Mountain America Credit Union Education Grant recipient, faculty members said they were surprised and thankful. 

“When Kylee shared the news with me, we were both shocked and excited, thinking of the amazing possibilities and the room transformations that await our littlest learners. This will have an incredible impact on their learning,” said Amber Akapnitis, the school’s principal. 

She also encouraged other teachers to apply to help fund innovative ways to educate their unique learners. Deaf students need multi-sensory and hands-on experiences to make connections for long-lasting learning.

“As educators, you always try your best to make the most with the little resources you have,” she said. “Mountain America’s education grants facilitate teachers’ missions to create the most effective learning experiences for students, and it’s something I think all educators should consider applying for.” 

“Each year, we see how these education grants are awarded to teachers who find innovative ways to help their students achieve their academic and financial dreams,” said Spencer Carver, assistant vice president of select employer groups at Mountain America Credit Union , who helped organize the Education Grants program. 

Mountain America awards Phoenix Day School for the Deaf with education grant to transform students’ learning experiences Mountain-America-Credit-Union-Kylee-Craven-and-student-in-classroom-1024x684
Phoenix Day School for the Deaf teacher Kylee Craven works with a student on a learning activity in her Farm Day themed classroom. Photo courtesy of Mountain America Credit Union

Since Mountain America began its Education Grants program in 2016, the credit union has given grants totaling more than $75,000 to 50 teachers and school leaders in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. 

Other grant recipients are using the funds for a wide variety of purposes, including earth and science labs, math manipulatives, and new books, as well as updating school libraries to promote financial and reading literacy. 

This year’s education grant recipients include Kylee Craven, a teacher at Phoenix Day School for the Deaf in Arizona; Erica Nielsen, a teacher at Koelsch Elementary in Boise, Idaho; and educators in Utah, including Andrew Groth, American Fork Junior High; Danyel Anderson, Roosevelt Elementary; Carol Fackler, Crestview Elementary; Camille Farias, Dixon Middle School; Isabelle Hollandsworth, Elk Meadows Elementary; Kelleen Leslie, Blackridge Elementary; Jessica Payne, Windridge Elementary; and Nani (Diana Leilani) Pierson, Windridge Elementary. 

Mountain America Education Grant opportunities for the 2022 academic year will be announced on macu.com/scholarships. To qualify, applicants must be members of the credit union.  

Mountain America awards Phoenix Day School for the Deaf with education grant to transform students’ learning experiences Mountain-America-Education-Grants-2021
Mountain America Education Grant Winners for 2021. Photo courtesy Mountain America Credit Union