Guest column: Education Foundation seeks to raise $500,000 for teaching grants

In the past seven years, the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation has awarded more than $322,000 in grants to more than 100 teachers. Because of the grants, at-risk readers are discovering the joy of reading through Kindles. Students are practicing a variety of skills using clicker response systems that provide teachers immediate feedback on what they’ve learned. Special needs students using iPads are pursuing new paths to learn reading comprehension skills.

With these grants, teachers are advancing learning with technology and equipment that wouldn’t be available otherwise in areas of science, art, music, special needs, the manufacturing academy, and foreign language, among others. The Education Foundation’s grants program does not replace public funding, but provides resources over and above what tax dollars are able to fund. It is an investment in our children and educational excellence.

Most grants are in the range of $500-$5,000. Teachers apply for the grants, and they are approved by the Oak Ridge Schools administration prior to consideration by the Foundation Board. These resources make a critical difference between adequate and outstanding academic performance, and the grants challenge teachers to seek new ways to provide students an extraordinary experience in the classroom.

Campaign chair and Foundation board member Cathy Toth points out that each year, the Foundation receives about three times as many proposals from teachers as can be funded. The success and this intense interest in the grants program led the Education Foundation to begin the campaign earlier this year to raise $500,000 to devote to grants.

We, the Foundation board members, believe so strongly in this grants program that we each have contributed to the current campaign, “Making the Critical Difference,” as individuals. Our goal is to raise $500,000 to provide grant awards of $100,000 each year for the next five years to teachers in Oak Ridge public schools. Corporate and individual donors are joining us in contributing to the campaign.

“We recognize grants to teachers provide one of the most direct ways to affect learning in the classroom,” said Barry Stephenson, Education Foundation board member and president and chief executive officer of Materials and Chemistry Laboratory Inc., one of the first companies to contribute to the campaign. “Each individual project has a champion in the teacher who planned the activity, wrote the request, and is able to take charge of its implementation in the classroom. We think that ensures success of the projects funded. We would like to fund even more than in the past.”

The Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation is asking for your help to ensure that annual grant awards continue to make a significant and critical difference to our schools.

Each dollar received by the Foundation for this campaign will be used to fund grants.

Those interested in learning more about the “Making the Critical Difference” campaign or in making a donation may call (865) 241-3667 or contact Lila Metcalf at [email protected]


ORPSEF Board of Directors 2012

Thomas Mason, Chairman

Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Pete Craven, Treasurer

Vice Chairman, All Meds


Lila Metcalf, Director


Cathy Toth, Secretary

President, Acato Information Management, LLC


Mike Belbeck, FACHE

President and Chief Administrative Officer

Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge


Gerald Boyd

Vice President, S.M. Stoller Corp.


Jim Campbell

President, East Tennessee Economic Council


Bonita Eschenberg

Community Advocate


Tony Fountain



Warren L. Gooch

Kramer Rayson LLP


Darrel Kohlhorst,

President, B&W Y-12, Retired


Andy Page

President/CEO, ORAU, and Director, ORISE


Pat Postma

University of Tennessee Dean of Executive Education, Retired


Matt Shafer Powell

Director of News Content, 91.9 FM WUOT


Ted Sherry

Global Security Directorate

Director of Advanced Programs, Oak Ridge National Laboratory


John W. Smith Jr.

Manager of Network Operations, SAIC


Barry Stephenson

President/CEO Materials Chemistry Lab, Inc.


Alex Zucker

President ORCMA, Retired


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  • Sam

    ” At risk readers are discovering the joy of reading through Kindles?” Is this the same reading program that the super tried to gut at the last school budget wingding?

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