Rooted in Academics
The Spark of Millard Public Schools
The Superintendent's Blog
Dr. John Schwartz
We all need a spark to run at our best. Millard Public Schools has an amazing one in our Foundation. The Millard Public Schools Foundation exists for the sole purpose of supporting us. They do it by donating more than a million dollars a year to the district and providing a whole system of supports throughout our schools.
Like any good infrastructure, we often don’t even see it. Their before-and-after-school child care program is a perfect example. It provides an invaluable service for so many families, but it’s common for parents to call us with questions about the Foundation's program. We often find ourselves explaining who the Foundation is and what they do. It’s understandably confusing. After all, the program literally operates in our schools. It made me realize if some of our families who directly depend on the Foundation’s programs don’t realize who they are and their impact on our schools, then many others in our community probably don't either. I’m hoping this blog changes that, because they are an organization worth getting to know.
The Foundation is by far Millard’s best partner. All thirty-five Millard schools receive money each year. Here’s the neat part. The Foundation leaves the control with the schools. Each school determines the best way to invest the dollars. This means the impact looks different across the district. Some of the money goes towards projects such as kindness retreats and One School, One Book reading events. Several schools use part of their funds to open and staff their libraries throughout the summer. Many of the middle and high schools provide after school reteaching and homework help. Schools also use the money to support professional learning in the summer, because our staff are lifelong learners, too.
This is the ongoing impact of the Foundation. But it’s far from their only investment. Throughout the years, the Foundation has made several large one-time infusions to get big projects off the ground. The one you see every day is the iPad or laptop your student brings home. The Foundation gave the initial gift to make Millard among the first to provide a one-to-one learning environment with a device for each child. We were ahead of the curve when the pandemic closed schools, and we fared better because of it.
Another example is brand new and will benefit both the district and students for years to come. The Foundation gave $800,000 to open a second Education Academy. The first one is at Millard West. The new one is at Millard North. Like all of our high school academies, these Education Academies let students start out on their career path sooner. Our hope is that they also bring many of our students back home for a career once they finish their studies. We are already seeing that with our first Education Academy. Expanding to a second Education Academy would not have been possible without the Foundation’s backing.
Building this kind of strength takes decades. Many people may not realize the Foundation has stood behind the district for nearly forty years, and that it came about to fill a need. In the 1980’s the Foundation started by providing before-and-after school childcare. That was the start of Kids Network, now known as Spark. I think that is also the perfect word to describe what the Foundation is to us - a spark for all students.
The Foundation recently made a video to bring more awareness to who they are and what they do. I invite you to take a look. Along with learning a bit about the organization, you might spot some people you know because these are our friends and neighbors, and we are so glad they are a part of Millard Public Schools.