The Jefferson County Retired Teachers Association knew they had to do something different.
For years, they had given scholarships to high schoolers entering college as freshmen, hoping to make a difference in a young person’s life. They gave the money, only to find that those once aspiring teachers did not complete higher education.
So, they dared to be different.
They decided to use the money in different ways, said Katherine Noyes, a member of the organization.
Now the group gives grants out each year to teachers who demonstrate projects that need critical funding. The idea has been a success.
This year, the group met at the beginning of March at Shoney’s on the year of its half century mark to celebrate awards for the teachers this year.
“We just celebrated our 50th year, which is significant,” Noyes said.
The group met at Shoney’s in Dandridge on March 2 and the six winners of the JCRTA Active Teachers Grants were the guest speakers, said Christine Thompson, chair of the grants committee.
Twenty-three applications were received by the deadline in October and the six were chosen.
A panel of retired teachers reviewed each of the projects without knowing the name of the recipient.
Applications came from Jefferson County schools at all grade levels, specialties and principals.
The maximum amount of the grants are $250. The grants this year ranged from $50 to $250, Thompson said.
The 2018 Active Teachers Grants recipients were:
• Vickie Denton – Kindergarten teacher at Mt. Horeb Elementary School. Denton used her grant money to upgrade her listening center with new books and a compact disk player.
• Ashely Stiffler – Fourth grade teacher at Mr. Horeb Elementary School. Stiffler received a grant for a second year. She used the money to provide a field trip the science museum in Nashville.
• Deborah Bloomer – Second grade teacher at White Pine Elementary School. Bloomer purchased books as starter units for science and social studies.
• Anoria Thiesson – ESL Teacher at White Pine School. She used her money to purchase books in Spanish for her lending library so students could take them home and read to their parents.
• Michelle Strange – Second-grade teacher at Dandridge Elementary School. Strange used her money, like Bloomer, to purchase starter units for science and social studies.
• Lani O-Connor – Service Learning Teacher at Jefferson County High School. O’Connor used her grant money to supplement funds to enable her students to write, build sets, create costumes, produce and perform an original anti-littering play for all second graders in the Jefferson County school system.