Summit School District teachers continue to innovate thanks to their creativity and support from Education Foundation of the Summit and parent-teacher organizations. Seventy-one projects were funded with $42,750 provided by the Eileen Finkel Innovative Teaching Awards. Every school’s PTA participated this year, and funding was nearly 50/50. Projects reach all grade levels and all schools in the district.
The grants are for all learners, all levels, all year ‘round. At Silverthorne Elementary, for example, the newly renovated media center—funded by taxpayer approval of the mill levy bond last year—is receiving more materials to support the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. “These resources will allow our students to understand and explore the diverse issues and perspectives found around the world in order to become world citizens,” said Kirsten Browne, IB teacher coordinator. Silverthorne also received funds to increase high-level interest engaging books at all student reading levels and for the summer reading book exchange program.
Other incredible projects students can look forward to this year include:
• Improving math, reading, problem-solving and collaboration skills through projects such as movie-making, coding and engineering.
• Cultural integration events, games and virtual reality, and extensions for gifted learners based on their interests and strengths.
• More welding, ski tuning, and medical equipment materials for Career and Technology Programs at the high school.
• Support for an adaptive ski program at the middle school.
• Leadership training for Snowy Peaks students to design and implement improvement strategies for their school.
The program started in 2001 when a teacher at Upper Blue Elementary asked if The Summit Foundation would fund a Shakespeare play. Paul and Eileen Finkel funded the Shakespeare play for two years from their private foundation. “That got us thinking, let’s provide some enrichment for students and teachers,” said Paul Finkel. “That’s why we created the Innovative Teaching Awards.” When Eileen, a retired teacher and principal, died in 2012, the Education Foundation of the Summit named the award after her. Paul, a generous soul who gives from his heart, is a strong community advocate and generous patron of the arts and education.
The Eileen Finkel Innovative Teaching Award is available to any Summit School District teacher or principal who seeks funding support for creative ideas. A committee of Education Foundation of the Summit directors, Summit School District staff, and parents selects projects. Creative projects have prior principal approval, and enhanced technology projects are supported by the district’s technology plan.
Eileen Finkel was a longtime educator, who strongly supported the innovative and creative ideas of teachers that help enrich educational opportunities for children. She came to Breckenridge to retire and where, alongside her husband Paul, she supported Summit County education, arts, and other charities.