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Nonprofit surprises teachers with classroom grants

Lucama Elementary teacher London Adkins and her fifth grade students hold a giant check announcing a $90 Wilson Education Partnership mini grant for Adkins’ “clipboards for collaboration” project. Twenty-five teachers were awarded a combined total of nearly $17,000 through the WEP’s annual mini grant initiative. Contributed photo

Twenty-five Wilson County teachers received a big surprise thanks to the Wilson Education Partnership’s annual support. 

The WEP handed out nearly $17,000 in mini grants to teachers at 13 schools throughout the district. The grants are aimed at enhancing students’ learning experiences inside the classroom. This year, WEP leaders more than doubled the amount of money awarded for the projects.

“This is such a great surprise,” said Tiffany Ellis, Fike High School’s foods, career and technical education teacher. 

Ellis’ “steaming culinary sensation” grant proposal was chosen for funding. The $1,000 grant will purchase warmers and some additional cookware to help students prepare bigger meals for the school staff and community groups. 

“This is so wonderful,” Ellis said. “The students kept asking me when we could cook for the staff, and I told them we had to wait until we could keep the food warm. Now, I can tell them we can move forward.” 


WEP Executive Director Robin Williams said she looks forward to seeing teachers’ and students’ excited faces with each grant presentation. She called it the “most wonderful time of the year.” 

“We love popping in with the ‘WEP Surprise Patrol’ and celebrating our educators,” Williams said. “They are working so hard to engage and inspire students, and we are thrilled to help them. The mini-grant committee had some tough decisions this year. They had so many awesome submissions.” 

Williams said the nonprofit received 44 submissions this year. The committee reviewed and scored those submissions based on creativity, the number of students served, sustainability, crossover between classes and overall writing of the grant request, Williams said. 

First-year teacher London Adkins was awarded a $90 “clipboards for collaboration” mini grant for her Lucama Elementary fifth graders. This grant will enable Adkins to purchase clipboards that double as dry-erase boards for quick thinking and small tasks. 

Adkins said her students were just talking about those clipboards, too. 

“My students are going to be so excited to have these to work on,” she said. “It’s the little things that make such a big difference.” 

Adkins said she’s grateful to the WEP for its support. 

Money for the grants is raised through the WEP’s adult spelling bee and trivia tournament, the Pumpkin Prince fundraiser and the organization’s annual appeal. This year, Southern Bank fulfilled three grants totaling a little more than $2,000. 


Following is a list of the project, teacher, school and amount for this year’s WEP mini grants:

• Interactive wipebooks: Beddingfield High, Amber Glover, $354.95. 

• Comfy, cozy café: Beddingfield High, Stephanie Muller, $500. 

• Electrical learning and chicken incubator: Beddingfield High, Bryant Glover, $1,000. 

• Moving Earth and moon: Speight Middle, Kathryn Thomas, $538.93. 

• Making learning come alive: Speight Middle, Rebecca Williams, $870. 

• Scribble stones: Lee Woodard Elementary, Michelle Hickey, $416.30. 

• Help rebuild my science lab: Fike High, LaDonna Mangum, $831.18. 

• Steaming culinary sensation: Fike High, Tiffany Ellis, $1,000. 

• Author’s perspective shift: Forest Hills Middle, Dana Skinner, $950.04. 

• Brainy bins: New Hope Elementary, Kelly Gunter, $689.91. 

• Clipboards for collaboration: Lucama Elementary, London Adkins, $90. 

• A little dirt never hurt: Rock Ridge Elementary, Amy Evans, $437.95. 

• Lights, cameras, action: Rock Ridge Elementary, Cori Burroughs, $825. 

• Exploring the world with drones: Hunt High, Stephen Boyette, $970.36. 

• Process in progress-biology edition: Hunt High, Amanda Bennett, $1,000. 

• Cold War spy games: Hunt High, Jessica Dean, $168.46. 

• Save a Life, Hunt High: Dana Lee, $574.93. 

• Community positivity: Hearne Elementary, Frank Johnson, $1,000. 

• Supporting students through literacy: Wells Elementary, Debra Simons, $1,000. 

• Learning through technology: Wells Elementary, Penny Johnson, $525.

• It all began with a book!: Frederick Douglass Elementary, Christie Edgerton, $553.36. 

• Skeleton and body: Frederick Douglass Elementary, Britney Beamon, $400.75. 

• Weather station: Lucama Elementary, Ryan Kirby, $800.

• Friday coffee cart: Jones Elementary, Lindsay Pitt, $1,000. 

• Bahrain pen pal project: Wells Elementary, Kelly Best, $220.