Foundation surprises teachers with cash awards to support classroom innovations

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Surprised with oversized checks, 34 Beaufort County public school teachers from 11 schools learned today that they had won Innovative Teacher Grants from the Foundation for Educational Excellence, a fund of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.

Foundation officials visited teachers’ classrooms to deliver the news in person. The 16 grants announced today ranged from $200 to $1,200 and totaled more than $7,300. In all, the grants will affect more than 3,700 students as their teachers are able to purchase materials to support innovative instructional methods.

“We’re privileged to recognize and reward teachers who approach their work in such creative ways,” said Jackie Rosswurm, the foundation’s chair. “The big winners are the students who benefit from these innovative and effective classroom projects.”

The grants will help fund diverse projects at schools throughout the district. Projects range from innovative reading and language programs to robotic components and an aircraft rudder. One grant for Pritchardville Elementary will be underwritten by the Okatie Rotary Club, whose mission supports Okatie-area schools.

“We’re continuing to grow as a foundation by welcoming new partners, volunteers and donors,” said Rosswurm. “It’s amazing to think of the potential we have as a community to support our own teachers as they help our students realize their potential. The future looks very bright.”

The Foundation for Educational Excellence was established in 2007, and its first grants were awarded in 2009.  Grants are now awarded twice each year, and thousands of students have benefitted since 2009.  The Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Grant funds come from individuals, businesses and the foundation’s major fundraiser, “Jewels and Jeans.”  This year’s event will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2015, from 6-9:30 p.m. at the Country Club of Hilton Head.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.foundationedexcellence.com.

“Jewels and Jeans sold out again last year, and we’re looking forward to another well-attended event on March 7,” Rosswurm said.  “It’s a wonderful evening to celebrate our outstanding schools and to raise money for grants to inspire our students.”

Innovative Teacher Grants (spring 2015 awards cycle)
• John Cullenen (Battery Creek High):  Mixed Media Imaging
• Ellen Dounn, Norma Evans, Melissa Pender,  Kelly Pulaski, Kristin Straut (Coosa Elementary): School Birding – Elementary Style!
• Renee Woods (Coosa Elementary):  Listening to Learn
• Deb Ryan, Rebecca Ulmer (Red Cedar Elementary): Super Sphero-The Robotic Hero
• Jennifer Friend-Kerr (Hilton Head Island Elementary School for Creative Arts): “Stylus” Writing
• Sheila Smith, Anjie Olander, Catherine Crum, Lori Soegel, Dedra Barker, Brantley Coulter, Terri Foy, Katelyn Roberts, Michelle Taylor, Michelle Trolan, Colleen Wynn, Jason Ziegler (Hilton Head Island Elementary): Together Educators Accomplish Miracles (TEAM)
• Blake Raley (Robert Smalls International Academy): RSIA Trail
• Ellen Dounn, Willa Simpson (Coosa Elementary): Books for Kids Who (think they) Hate Reading
• Kelly Vannoni (H.E. McCracken Middle): HERO – Colonial Williamsburg Online Programming
• Anthony Petrucci (Battery Creek High): Aircraft Rudder Starter Kit
• Mary Baker (Hilton Head Island Elementary): Sum Dog
• Jamie Dyas (Robert Smalls International Academy): Penning Global Pals
• Irma Rameizl (Hilton Head Island Middle): Bilingual Books with CD’s
• Alayne Arnett (Bluffton Elementary): Artist in Residence – Art around the World
• Nancy Forbes (Hilton Head Island Middle): Instruments of Innovation
• Jody Zatek, Karyn Matejewski (Pritchardville Elementary School): Bluetooth Keyboards for IPads. This grant is funded by the Okatie Rotary Club.