ms morrell school photo
By Grace Morrell, Fifth and Sixth Grade Science Teacher, South Kearns Elementary

The motto of South Kearns Elementary where I teach is, “All students can learn and TOGETHER we will make it happen.” My name is Grace Morrell and I am a fifth/ sixth-grade science teacher in Granite School District. I have one of the best jobs because, with you, I make this goal a reality. When deciding which career to pursue, I chose to become a teacher to make a difference in as many lives as I could, when it mattered most. This choice has become one of the greatest blessings in my life.

After graduating college, I interviewed for teaching positions throughout Utah and Idaho with the hope of finding my niche, a place where I could make a difference. After visiting with the South Kearns principal and learning that the school is a failing Title 1 school, the children were years behind in their learning, and it was a turnaround school with lots of work to do, I knew that I had found my dream school. I declined other job offers and was thrilled when asked to be part of the South Kearns family.

This is my second year teaching phenomenal kids here with some of the most incredible educators. It has not been easy, but it has been beyond worth it! With the help of the community partners and many generous donations and volunteers, great changes have happened at the school and within the hearts of the children.

It has been a privilege to work with United Way and to be a community school. As a teacher, I strive to give as much of myself as I can to my students. Unfortunately, with a teacher’s salary and only 24 hours in a day, I am very limited in what I can do. It is a huge relief to know that I am not alone in my endeavors to give of myself to better my kids’ lives. With the time and donations offered us, I am given the support needed and the students see that people they do not even know care for them and are pulling for their success. It is empowering!

United Way does so much for my school and the students! When we have a vision, we would like to accomplish, we talk to the United Way representative at our school and she makes our dreams a reality. In October, we talked to her about getting a donation of pumpkins for a fifth/sixth-grade project. She worked her United Way magic and was able to find people willing to donate them to us. The children were beyond thrilled!  Many of them had never received a pumpkin before and were looking forward to showing their parents, carving them, and even learning how to make pumpkin pie.

Although pumpkins are something we specifically requested, United Way is consistently supporting our school with volunteers for classroom sponsors, out of school activities, community partnerships, and assistance with the afterschool program. We are fortunate to receive assistance in the form of medical, vision, and immunization clinics as well as volunteers and donations for our basic needs pantry. The donations of time, food, assistance, and love are invaluable.Teachers, students, and families appreciate the partnerships that support our school.

When I learned that I would have the opportunity to write this blog post, I decided to ask some of my fifth and sixth graders their thoughts about United Way and the great work that is done. The overarching message I was given from them was a big thank you. Thanks for the help, the food, the parties, the volunteers, the support, the strength of the community, and the grapes.  According to my students, a United Way donor provides good, really juicy grapes. Several students commented on the grapes.

Students talked fondly about specific volunteers they had worked with and met. Memories were shared of Halloween, Christmas, and Harry Potter themed parties. They remembered opportunities that they had been given to serve others like making art packets for those affected by Hurricane Irma and tablemats for nursing homes. These students will carry these memories with them forever.

In short, the contributions made are changing lives. Please keep sharing yourselves with and loving my kids! You are making a difference and it does not go unnoticed!