By Shelby Smithey…
Over $42,000 was awarded to local teachers from 45 schools and departments last night at the J.E. Hall Educational Services Center as part of the Grants for Excellence program. Checks up to $500 were given out to each teacher by the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation and Autism Pensacola, which raised almost $4,000.
The money will be used to fund special projects designed by teachers to enhance and aid in student involvement and learning. “Since 1994, we have awarded close to $862,000 to K-12 teachers in Escambia County,” Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Passeretti said. “We will be awarding $42,674.93 to our teachers tonight.”
Superintendent Malcolm Thomas was also in attendance to congratulate the grant recipients.
“The heart and core of any school or education institution is the teacher,” Superintendent Thomas said. “I’ve been in many of your classrooms and I see what you do firsthand. Today we are going to give you money to put into practice some of these innovative projects that have come into your imagination.”
Foundation board member Gail Husbands handed out checks to each teacher. “Every single middle school has a recipient and all but two high schools had a recipient as well,” Husbands said. “We are really proud of the participation this year.”
Many of the projects being funded seek to use technology to enhance student learning that otherwise may have not been affordable. Jeffrey Pribble, Escambia High School teacher and 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year, received his check to fund a program called “Beyond the Mechanics of Multimedia.” The goal of the project is to challenge multimedia students to think beyond the creative aspect of conceiving, filming and editing short films.
Chet Truett, teacher at Ernest Ward Middle School, will use his check to purchase dry ice. He will teach his students the properties and state changes of carbon dioxide as well as safety hazards and precautions.
Out of the 97 teachers that were awarded checks, nine received their grants from Autism Pensacola. Linda Reinhardt, an ESE teacher at Workman Middle School, is using her check to purchase therapy and stability balls, which have been shown to help maximize learning potential in ESE students.
Jennifer Shiver is a Pre-K teacher at Holm Elementary School and received her grant check from Autism Pensacola as well. She will use this grant to purchase iPad apps for students with autism to effectively communicate.
“Education is going through a phenomenal change,” Thomas said. “You are helping us lead the change in student engagement and in innovation in the classroom and I solute and appreciate what you do. I cannot wait until a week or two from now when I walk into those classrooms and see how you’ve put into practice your creative ideas that will benefit the boys and girls of Escambia County.”