Teachers Win ‘Big Idea’ Grant to Expose Kids to Nature

Teachers Win ‘Big Idea’ Grant to Expose Kids to Nature
When the Great Falls Public Schools Foundation encouraged teachers to dream big to earn a $100,000 grant, a team of teachers at Great Falls High began thinking “what if.”

What if there was a subject that could be taught across all curriculum areas to their freshmen students? What if they could get their students out of the classroom to study the material and could teach them a little bit about conservation and Montana history in the process?

On Wednesday afternoon, teachers Beth Thomas (science), Mary Wren (math), Mark Schulte (social studies), Emily Parzynski (English), Kathy Nelson (literacy) and Jana Mora (technology) learned their “Prairie Expedition” grant application was picked as the winner in the GFPS Foundation’s first-ever “Dream Big” grant contest. There are a lot of components to the grant, but one big feature will be taking kids to the American Prairie Reserve outside of Malta next spring.

“We just felt like we had written and put our best proposal forward,” Thomas said.

Gerry Jennings, a member of the GFPS Foundation board of directors, sat on the committee that reviewed all eight grant applications. The committee would have liked to have funded all eight ideas. But the one presented by Great Falls High freshmen teachers was well-rounded.

“This one, it expanded our geographic area and it expands our community,” Jennings said. “It’s an active project and we felt it was multi-faceted. They had really done their homework.”

The project will impact approximately 450 students,…
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