GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Thinking outside the box paid-off for ten teachers in South Mississippi. On Wednesday, they each received a share of $19,000 in grants to support their classroom proposals.
During a luncheon in Gulfport, Hancock Bank and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation honored those top educators with the Leo Seal Innovative Teacher Grant. The grants ranged from $1,400 to $2,000. The money will be used for unique, creative projects to enhance learning in the classroom.
One teacher wants to grow a garden and use the ingredients to make pizza. Another teacher will focus on engineering projects with a fairy tale theme.
The grant award also means some Gulfport students will create their own soda and use recycled materials to bottle it. Some Jackson County students will use toy drones to practice landing space modules.
"I think it's awesome. It's something we'll be able to do that we would not have been able to do otherwise without the Leo Seal award," said Richard Humphreys, a teacher at St. Martin High School.
"I was excited for the students, and they were excited to get the items and get started on their projects," said Crossroads Elementary teacher Natasha Mays.
There were 65 applicants this year.
"Each year, it surprises us the innovative things they're doing in classrooms. This year's award winners just stepped it up another notch. It's going to be tougher and tougher each year to select new winners. I thought it was great. There was a whole spectrum of things they were doing, and that just shows that our teachers are caring about our students and what they're doing to prepare them for the future," said Keith Williams, Hancock Bank Senior Vice President.
The ten winners also received a golden apple sculpture and a $100 bonus. Applications for next year's grants will be available on-line starting this fall.