Alondra Garcia awarded 2015 Myrick Scholarship

Teresa Myrick, Alondra Barrera Garcia, and Jessica Steed

Alondra Barrera Garcia, center, receives congratulations for winning the Myrick Scholarship from Teresa Myrick, left, and Jessica Steed. (Submitted photo)


Alondra Barrera Garcia’s dedication to the study of environmental science has earned her a $1,000 scholarship awarded by Teresa Myrick and established to honor a hard-working student in a field of study important to Teresa’s husband, Tim Myrick.

Alondra, a May graduate of Oak Ridge High School, plans to attend Berea College in Kentucky this fall, where she will major in environmental science and sustainability. She was a student in Deni Sobek’s Advanced Placement Environmental Science class at the high school.

“The class assured me that this is what I wanted to dedicate my life to,” Alondra said. “I would like to use my interest in the environment to aid it and solve the problems that affect it, and hopefully make the world a more sustainable planet, to ensure that it will be safe and healthy for future generations.”

In 2012, Myrick and his wife Teresa pledged $25,000 to the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation’s “Making the Critical Difference” campaign for grants and scholarships. Their pledge provides an annual scholarship to a top AP Environmental Science student, as well as grant funds to be awarded to ORHS Science Department applicants. Alondra is the seventh recipient of the Myricks’ AP Environmental Science scholarship, with previous scholarships presented through ADFAC, or Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties. [Read more…]

Education Foundation to award $93,894 in grants at Wednesday ceremony

Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation

As part of its “Making the Critical Difference” campaign, the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation will award more than $93,000 in grants to Oak Ridge teachers at a ceremony this Wednesday, May 20.

Oak Ridge alumni and WBIR Anchor Moira Kaye will be the featured speaker at the event for what she has described as her career’s “last personal appearance.” The ceremony is open to the public, and it will be held in the Oak Ridge High School cafeteria beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Demonstrations and displays of some of the projects and technology funded by the Foundation will be given after the formal ceremony.

The 2015 grant recipients are as follows: [Read more…]

Education Foundation grant takes English language learners on Titanic voyage

Glenwood Elementary Ice Water Experiment

Students test the icy cold waters as they study the Titanic voyage and the sinking of the ship in a project developed for English language learners. (Submitted photos)


English language learners in Oak Ridge’s four public elementary schools are becoming experts on the Titanic as they conduct science experiments to learn about icebergs, build boats with straws, and explore the historic event as they read history and fiction.

The first- through fourth-graders are taking “A Titanic Voyage for English Language Learners,” a project helping them become more confident in their English skills through a variety of learning experiences. The four English as a second language, or ESL, teachers received a $1,544 grant from the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation last year to buy materials needed for the multi-school project.

The grant will also make possible a field study on May 5 at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, where students will draw on their studies to have discussions and ask questions as they build on their knowledge of the Titanic and of English.

“They are getting science, social studies, and all the language domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing,” said Cherie Adcock, ESL teacher at Woodland Elementary School. “Their response has been great, and they are excited.” [Read more…]

Education Foundation grants support robotics, Lego learning projects

Jefferson Middle School Master Builders

Two members of the Jefferson Middle School Master Builders team are preparing their robot to solve missions at a FIRST Lego League mission table. (Photo by Yvonne Dalschen)


At Linden Elementary School, Lisa Buckner’s third-graders are building robots and Lego floats representing continents in a months-long project aimed at engaging them in learning, problem solving, and creative and critical thinking.

The 38 members of Oak Ridge High School’s Secret City Robotics team are solving real-world problems as they build and program a 120-pound robot to enter FIRST Robotics Competitions as an extra-curricular activity.

Teachers view robots and Lego sets as tools giving Oak Ridge students opportunities to collaborate, design, build, and solve problems as they learn engineering, science, and technology skills, both inside and outside the classroom.

The Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation supported these activities with $18,700 in grants last year to teachers at the Oak Ridge High School, Jefferson and Robertsville middle schools, and Linden Elementary School. The grants included a UT-Battelle donation of $10,000 directed to FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Lego League teams, all extra-curricular programs at the high school and middle schools. [Read more…]

Education Foundation will award $80,000 more to Oak Ridge teachers

The Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation will award another $80,000 in grants to Oak Ridge teachers this year, and applications are now being accepted for the 2014 grant cycle.

This year, the Foundation will award $80,000 in grants to teachers, administrative staff, and student groups as part of its ongoing “Making the Critical Difference” campaign. Grant applications are due no later than March 31.

This campaign provides resources and teaching tools over and above those funded with tax dollars, typically in the range of $500 to $5,000, a press release said. The grants are not intended for salaries or to replace items that may have been cut from the schools’ annual budgets. Since the program began in 2004, the Foundation has awarded a total of more than $399,000 to dozens of teachers in every grade. ORPSEF grants may be made for educational programming, professional development, equipment, facilities, travel, conferences, or other purposes that might be approved by the Foundation. [Read more…]

IIa pledges $5,000 to Education Foundation grants program

IIa and ORPSEF Grant

Bonnie Carroll, left, Information International Associates CEO and owner, and Kelly Callison, right, IIa chief operating officer, present Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation Executive Director Lila Metcalf with a check for $1,000 for the “Making the Critical Difference Campaign.” (Submitted photo)

Information International Associates Inc., or IIa, has pledged $5,000 to the “Making the Critical Difference” campaign conducted by the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation. Bonnie Carroll, IIa chief executive officer and founder, and Kelly Callison, the company’s chief operating officer, recently presented the foundation with a $1,000 annual payment toward the pledge.

The Education Foundation is conducting the campaign to raise $500,000 for grant awards to teachers throughout the Oak Ridge schools, aiming to present $100,000 in grants each year for five years. The Foundation’s board believes that these grants have a strong supporting role in sustaining the tradition of excellence in Oak Ridge schools, as well as rewarding teachers for innovative ideas. [Read more…]

Letter: ORPSEF thanks contributors to Dreams and Innovations

Deirdre Barrett and ORPSEF Foundation

Deirdre Barrett, right, is pictured above with Alice Feldman, Linda Young, Anne Garcia Garland, and Margaret Gottshall. (Submitted photo)

To the Editor:

The Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation would like to extend its thanks to all who contributed to the Dreams and Innovation program honoring Oak Ridge teachers who received Foundation grants for the 2013-2014 school year.

Our thanks and appreciation goes to:

  • B&W Y-12, which provided the location, New Hope Center, for the celebration attended by more than 150 people. B&W Y-12 also provided assistance with sound and information technology for the event.
  • Aubrey’s Restaurant, one of Oak Ridge’s newest restaurants, for providing appetizers for the event.
  • Materials and Chemistry Laboratory Inc. (MCLinc), which provided booths for the event.
  • Deirdre Barrett, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, author, psychologist at Harvard Medical School, and graduate of Oak Ridge High School. She spoke on the theme of the event, describing how dreams contribute to innovation and problem solving, relating research from her book, “The Committee of Sleep.”
  • The Oak Ridge public schools teachers who provided demonstrations of materials and programs funded by past Education Foundation grant awards, showing how students have benefitted.
  • Oak Ridge JazzCats and Michelle Hairston, who provided entertainment during the event.
  • The ORPSEF board of directors, for their support for this event. [Read more…]

Harvard psychologist to discuss dreams, innovation at Education Foundation program

Deirdre Barrett

Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist on the Harvard Medical School faculty, will discuss dreams and innovation as the featured speaker during an April 26 program hosted by the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation that will honor teachers who have received the Foundation’s 2013 grant awards. (Submitted photo)

Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist on the Harvard Medical School faculty known for her research on dreams and hypnosis, will return to her hometown to speak on “Dreams and Innovation” on Friday, April 26, in Oak Ridge.

Barrett is the featured speaker at the “Dreams and Innovation” program hosted by the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation to honor teachers who have received the Foundation’s 2013 grant awards, beginning at 5 p.m. at New Hope Center.

The free event is open to the public, and no reservations are required.

Barrett is an Oak Ridge High School graduate, and she will describe how dreams contribute to innovation and problem solving, relating research from her book, “The Committee of Sleep.” The book is subtitled “How Artists, Scientists, and Athletes Use Dreams for Creative Problem-Solving—How You Can Too.” [Read more…]

Education Foundation gives city $400,000 for ORHS debt

Mark Watson and Lila Metcalf

Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation Executive Director Lila Metcalf presents a $402,611 check to Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson to help pay the debt on the renovation of the Oak Ridge High School. (Submitted photo)

The Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation recently made its eighth annual contribution for the rebuilding and renovation of Oak Ridge High School, a project that was completed in 2008.

In November, Lila Metcalf, the foundation’s executive director, presented a check for $402,611 to Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson to assist in the high school debt repayment. Since the payments began in 2005, the Education Foundation has presented the city with more than $3.5 million for the high school.

The Education Foundation raised $8 million in private funds for the high school, and that money provided the leverage for special bonds available for public schools. Together, the private funds and bonds provided the final piece of funding that made the renovation of Oak Ridge High School possible.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]