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Center Hill Middle School assistant principal Michelle Bordwell (left) presents Dr. Suzan Gavrock with her grant award certificate as Maray McIntyre (right) looks on Thursday during the Salute to Education grant award program at DeSoto Hills Baptist Church in Southaven.

School teachers among DeSoto County’s public, private and parochial schools have received a record amount of grant money from the local business community toward better educating young students.

The Thursday afternoon program, called the Salute to Education Classroom Teacher Grant Program, and held at DeSoto Hills Baptist Church in Southaven, rewarded 133 teachers with $57,669.65 in grant money.

The 133 award winners came from a group of 405 applications submitted, the most ever for the program.  

Awards went to teachers representing DeSoto County Schools, Northpoint Christian School, Sacred Heart School and Front Porch Learning Cottage, a tutoring program based in Hernando. There was also one grant given to the DeSoto County Juvenile Detention Center.

“This is a great event for all of the schools in DeSoto County,” said Uselton. “It’s a great example of the partnership between schools and the business community.”

The money comes from the DeSoto County Economic Development Council’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which started in 1989 as a non-profit foundation by the DeSoto County Board of Education.

The aim of the foundation is to enhance educational opportunities and programs. The destinations for the grants were both future thinking, visionary and creative.

Mike Doss of Career Tech Center-East in Olive Branch is a Transportation Logistics instructor. The future use of drones in the industrial world will be addressed with the grant he received for his classes.

“We have a warehouse where we do inventory control,” Doss explained. “One of the big things that’s coming up in the industry now is the use of drones actually inside a warehouse. What we’re going to do is use that money to purchase some small drones that will be used to control and check on inventories.”

Michelle Kinggard is a Spotlight instructor at Overpark Elementary School and her students will be able to better look into the world of Crime Scene Investigation thanks to the grant she received from the Foundation.

“The kids get to work with their critical thinking skills to solve mysteries,” Kinggard explained. “My students love to figure things out. Let’s see what the problem is and let’s see how to solve it. This is right up their alley.”

At Center Hill Middle School, Suzan Gavrock’s eighth-grade science students will better understand of concepts of physics with the materials she will receive through her award.

“I ordered a lot of supplies regarding waves and sound and a glass bell jar that you can suction the air out so they can see that sound doesn’t travel without air,” Gavrock said. “It gives them a lot of visuals for abstract concepts that are hard for them to grasp on to. In middle school, you can’t teach unless you give them hands-on opportunities. You can’t make everything a physics equation and expect them to get it.”

Along with private donations from the business community, the foundation’s grants have been funded through money raised at the annual Salute to Industry golf tournament, with this year’s event having raised about $7,700 toward teacher grant awards.

The foundation also this year created a Jonathan Kelly Memorial Golf Scholarship that has raised $800 toward a scholarship to a student desiring to learn more about golf.

“All of the teachers here, both public and private, took extra time to write the grants because they wanted to do that little extra for their students,” Uselton added. “This just shows a great example of teachers going that extra mile to make sure that their students succeed.”

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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