KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Thank America’s Teachers Program of Farmers Insurance Agency is giving away more than a million dollars to educators this year in a nationwide effort to thank teachers. The public gets to help determine who receives the grants after teachers across the country send in proposals.
Kindergarten teacher Lydia Lane and first grade teacher Samantha Wise, both with Beaumont Magnet Academy, were surprised during a teacher’s training where they learned they’d each won $2,500 for their classrooms.
“Every great person – no matter who they are – there is a teacher, if not a hundred of them, in their timeline,” says Farmers Insurance agent Shannon McCullock as he presented Lane and Wise with their check Wednesday morning.
“I didn’t expect to win after I found out that it was a national deal, but yes, very surprised,” says Wise. “People that we didn’t even know were voting for us.”
Both Wise and Lane wrote proposals for flexible seating classrooms designed to allow students to sit where they choose in less traditional chairs, tables, and other furnishings.
“Kids are only going to learn when they feel safe and loved and comfortable and at home, and if you can’t meet those basic needs first, they’re not going to get the addition and subtraction and reading and language that you’re trying to teach them,” said Lane.
Both teachers have spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars on those needs, out of their own pockets, over the years.
“I mean our kids are changing. Families are changing. The education system is changing. So I believe that our kids should change along with it,” said Wise “Let them take more ownership of their learning. If they’re comfortable, they’re going to kind of give more back to me and I can give more to them.”
“I think I’m most excited to see the kids’ faces when they come in for the first time, because they’re probably expecting the big tables and the metal chairs and all this. So I think it’ll be really exciting for them to see all this new cool stuff they get to use,” said Lane.
Since both teachers only recently found out they were grant recipients and school starts on Monday, they’re hoping to complete their classrooms over fall break.