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Education Foundation surprises teachers with grants

By Joshua Baethge
For the Van Alstyne Leader

 The Van Alstyne Education Foundation recently awarded approximately $21,000 in teacher grants to various local teachers. For those with the foundation, it’s an experience that never gets old.

VA Education Foundation Executive Director Mandy Montgomery says she enjoys “ambushing” teachers with life-sized checks.

“The teachers were super excited when we surprised the winners,” Education Foundation Executive Director Mandy Montgomery said. “We ‘ambush’ them with a life-size check along with administrators, grant committee and principals. It’s the most rewarding thing I have the pleasure of being a part of. It makes all the hard work we do at the foundation, worth it.”

This year the foundation received requests for $47,000 in grants.  Due to financial concerns, the organization could only fulfill half of them this year.  The pandemic has put plans for its biggest fundraiser, the annual gala, up in the air.

In addition to money raised from a few fundraisers throughout the year, many teachers and school district staff also contribute through payroll deductions.

“That goes to show they believe in what we are doing and have partnered with us to support them,” Montgomery said.

This year the foundation received a lot of requests for technology, particularly iPads and Chromebooks.  Even though remote learning is ending in the district, there is still a glaring need for them, both now and in the event of an increase in COVID-19 cases mandating additional at-home schooling. Of course the demand for additional technology devices is something being experienced across the nation.  The Education Foundation was able to provide some for the schools though not as many as would be ideal. 

Among other projects that were funded were a life cycle science program for students at Bob and Lola Sanford Elementary School. They will get hands-on experience watching little creatures develop and grow.

Seventh graders at Van Alstyne Middle School will now get to dissect adult spiny dogfish sharks. There’s will also be new books for the reading intervention program, new technology to help teachers record lessons, laser projectors to help P.E. teachers demonstrate techniques among other projects.