Teacher Elizabeth Strickland, holding check, and her students at River Ridge Academy were surprised with a grant check to fund her project “Speech Ther-APP-y.” PHOTO SUBMITTED

On Oct. 12, officials from the Foundation for Educational Excellence surprised Beaufort County public school faculty members from 14 different schools with balloons and oversized checks. The teachers, surrounded by delighted students, were recipients of the Foundation’s Innovative Teacher Grants for Fall 2017.

The 18 grants awarded ranged from $179 to $1,500 and totaled more than $10,000. These grants will impact students district-wide in classes ranging from elementary through high school.

Examples of the projects funded this year include origami instructional books for exploring geometry, infrared photography equipment for cross curriculum teaching, Lego STEM instruction, a native plant pollinator garden, materials for teaching personal finance to middle schoolers, and several reading enrichment programs.

The Foundation for Educational Excellence raises funds for teacher grants that support classroom innovation. Established in 2007, the Foundation awarded its first grants in 2009 and has awarded more than $180,000 in grants to the teachers and students in the public school system since its inception, benefitting thousands of students across the county.

Grants are awarded twice a year.

This fall, in conjunction with the Foundation, the Rotary Club of Okatie fully funded two of the grants awarded. In addition, this grant cycle was partially funded by contributions from the Bargain Box of Hilton Head, Friends of Callawassie Island and the Foundation’s major fundraiser, “Jewels and Jeans.”

The event is held each spring and offers an opportunity for attendees to “Fund a Grant” by pledging money towards partial funding of the Foundation’s grants.

“The Foundation is so excited to be a part of helping the teachers and students of our district by awarding these grants,” said Deborah Colella, the Foundation’s chair. “Due to the overwhelming generosity of the Foundation’s supporters, more than 4,200 students throughout the county will be impacted through the implementation of these creative and innovative projects.”