A hundred miles and 100-watt smiles – that was the action and reaction when the Lenoir County Education Foundation’s Prize Patrol hit the road last week to distribute mini-grant awards to LCPS teachers in record numbers.
With balloons in tow and checks in hand, the Prize Patrol – led by Education Foundation Executive Director Laura Lee Sylvester – visited 12 schools across the county Friday and presented 41 grant awards with a total value of $17,745, the most ever given out in this annual rite.
The winning teachers are spread across the spectrum of grades; but, whether it was Grace Joyner’s pottery project with her art students at La Grange Elementary or Elizabeth Moon’s introduction of robotics and computer coding at Lenoir County Learning Academy, their grant proposals put learning in the hands of students and gave the lessons a creative twist.
“The judges loved the grant ideas,” Sylvester said. “They had to be good because this was a very competitive process. We had a record number of applications, more than 150.”
First-time grant winner Jordan Gray will use her grant money to buy whisper phones, a telephone-like device that allows students to practice reading aloud by whispering into the transmitter end and hearing themselves through the receiver end.
“All my kids like to read aloud and hear themselves read,” Gray told the Prize Patrol. “I think the whisper phones will let them hear how well they’re doing and, if they make a mistake, to hear it and go back and fix it.”
Repeat mini-grant winners Teresa Eason and Kim Hipkiss of North Lenoir High School will use their respective grant awards to bring a sense of realism to the work future nurses do in their health science classes – acquainting them with the limitations suffered by Alzheimer’s patients in Eason’s case and, with Hipkiss, to give some insight into dealing with traumatic injury.
Ty Kennedy, who facilitates the STEM Center at Woodington Middle School, is installing a small aquaponics system with his winnings and expects to involved not only his students but also those in the sustainable agriculture program taught by Jessica Jones, a grant winner herself for a proposal to grow the school’s flock of chickens.
Because some grant proposals came from teacher teams, the awards are shared among 48 teachers. They ranged in value from $80 to $500, the cap for mini-grants.
“I was very excited to be out today to see the mini-grants accepted,” LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams said. “I appreciate very much the support of the Lenoir County Education Foundation and their advocacy for enhancing instruction in our classrooms. It helps us provide additional learning opportunities for our students.”
Williams accompanied the Prize Patrol on all 12 stops. Education Foundation board chair Judy Jones and members Calvin Sutton and Jessica Shimer formed the Prize Patrol along with Sylvester, who is also president of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce, the Education Foundation’s parent organization.
The mini-grant program is supported primarily through annual fundraising events organized by the Education Foundation and Chamber of Commerce, including the Adult Spelling Bee, Lenoir County Education Foundation Golf Tournament and the Education Foundation Mini-Grant Luncheon.
Winning teachers in this mini-grant cycle, along with their school and the value of the grant, were:
Lenoir County Early College High School – Porsah Bell ($500) and Dr. Rita L. Joyner ($500); La Grange Elementary – Jennifer Sutton ($500), Deborah Anderson ($500), David Miles ($250), Elaine Yarbrough ($500) and Grace Joyner ($500); Moss Hill Elementary – Allyson Heath ($459), Meredith Sanderson ($469), Hollie Ayers (($500), Glenda Kennedy ($420), Wesley Letchworth ($451), Jordan Gray ($90) and Kari Racobaldo ($125).
Also, Woodington Middle – Linda Smith and Treva Romig ($500), Jessica Jones ($480), Zachary Wills ($500), Ty Kennedy ($500), Ben Daniels and John Morgan ($498); Southwood Elementary, Shannon Hamm ($500); Northwest Elementary – Heather Clark, Joretta Durant, Allison Fritz and Phillip Huffman ($463) and Anne Ormond ($321); Banks Elementary – Bobbi Colie ($80) and Brandi Murphy ($500); Rochelle Middle – Hannah Jimenez ($500).
Also, Lenoir County Learning Academy – Elizabeth Moon ($321); Contentnea-Savannah K-8 – Katy Wyborny ($350), first-grade team of Emily Burkett, Sara Pennington, Rebecca Smith and Meredith Criswell ($370), Mary Riddick ($500), Amy White ($407) and Stephanie Perry Bradshaw ($500); North Lenoir High – Kim Hipkiss ($500) and Teresa Eason ($500); Pink Hill Elementary – Walter Upthegrove ($433), Jennifer McLawhorn ($325), Betsy Mercer ($478), Aaron Murdock ($491), Julie Rouse ($500), Katelyn Burrus ($480), Sherri Grubbs ($494) and Kim Hardister ($496).