(Courtesy of My SA)
Brackenridge High School biology teacher Bethany Fleming was in the middle of a lesson on the scientific method when her class was interrupted by the district superintendent, school board president, her school principal and a legion of television cameramen.
Other visitors streamed through both doors of Fleming’s classroom, clutching balloons and carrying placards.
“Wow,” Fleming said softly, a smile spreading across her face.
Carri Baker Wells, chairwoman of the San Antonio Independent School District Foundation, stepped to the front of the class and explained that Fleming was the recipient of a grant to help her implement more hands-on lessons.
During surprise visits Thursday, the foundation distributed a total of $88,333 in Innovation Grants to 26 SAISD teachers and three district department heads, the most the organization has handed out since the grant program began in 2007.
Many public school districts are also supported by foundation charities that raise money throughout the year to fund teacher grants or other supplementary expenses. SAISD’s foundation was created in 1997 but did no fundraising for about 10 years, until it held a golf tournament in 2006, according to San Antonio Express-News archives.
This year’s tournament, led by Spurs, Sports & Entertainment Vice President Leo Gomez, netted more than $150,000. Proceeds from the first Inspire Awards event Sept. 28 will also fund teacher grants.
Fleming, a second-year teacher, said that when she started her career last year at Brackenridge, she was impressed with the new technology in her classroom.
“I went to UT, we didn’t have anything like this,” she said, standing in front of an interactive whiteboard, but added that she applied for the grant because she wanted her students to have hands-on lessons as well.
Fleming’s grant application for $3,548 worth of models, including the parts of DNA, was funded in full and will be something that the school’s entire biology department can use, she said. It was one of two grants awarded in honor of late Brackenridge science teacher Chris McBrayer.
Other winners received money for a reading club, a project that integrates math into physical education classes, an online tutoring project and one that integrates writing and art appreciation.
“I thought we were asking for too much,” Fleming said as the room cleared out. “I’ve never asked for that much money in my life.”