Sarah Baker, Nirmol Lim and Amy Rose, all teachers at Seguin Elementary School, 5905 Waltrip Street, aren’t much for running.
But they want to show their gratitude and support to Fund for Teachers, so they will volunteer at the registration booth or by passing out water during the FFT Fund Run on Feb. 9.
Fund for Teachers is an organization that provides grants for teachers who wish to “pursue opportunities around the globe that will have the greatest impact on their practice, the academic lives of their pupils and on their school communities.”
Baker and Lim received a team grant of $7,500 to attend a national energy conference in Washington D.C. last July.
Lim, who teaches fifth grade, said they would never have been able to afford the conference without the help of Fund for Teachers.
“The conference itself was $1,000 each excluding airfare and taxi,” said Lim, a 29-year-old southeast Houston resident. “It is wonderful of Fund for Teachers to help teachers learn.”
Baker, a fifth grade science lab teacher, said she learned things at the conference that surprised her.
“I learned a lot about nuclear energy,” said Baker, a 28-year-old Meyerland resident.
“One thing that surprised me most is that nuclear energy is renewable. The tablets they use to make uranium, they can use again and again.”
Baker said she met a woman at the conference from Puerto Rico whose home runs completely off of solar energy.
“It costs her $3 a month,” Baker said. “I didn’t know you can get solar shingles on your homes.”
In keeping with part of the mission of Fund for Teachers, Baker is passing everything she learned on to her science pupils at Seguin.
“We’re about to start our energy unit,” Baker said. “We will build solar ovens, solar cars, hydro-powered cars and design a (wind) turbine.
“The grant also provided money to buy the materials to do the activities. I was able to get more than $800 worth of supplies.”
Karen Kovach-Webb, executive director of Fund for Teachers, loves to hear stories like that.
She said the Fund Run, while expected to bring out more than 1,000 participants and raise approximately $65,000, is more of an awareness campaign than a fundraiser.
“It gives our corporate supporters an opportunity for their employees to come out with their families and meet some of our teachers,” Kovach-Webb said. “Last year in Houston we awarded 101 grants worth $375,000.”
That number will likely go up, because this year they are increasing team grants from $7,500 to $10,000.
“We upped it because it’s really interesting to see the teachers’ quality of work when they collaborate on their project, and then collaborate back in the classroom,” Kovach-Webb said.
Individual grants will remain at $5,000.
Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has provided more than $8.5 million in grants to 2,609 teachers across the United States.
In Houston, grants totaling $1.8 million have been awarded to more than 500 teachers.
The fund is supported by foundations, individuals and corporate donors.