Grant season is officially underway for the Dothan Education Foundation, and teachers are anxiously on the edge of their seats to see if their proposal has been selected for funding.
The grants are awarded annually, but this year the organization is shaking things up with surprise check presentations, which has already left one teacher with tears of joy.
Alyssa Dyer, a special education teacher at Morris Slingluff Elementary School, had no idea she would be awarded a $1,242.20 grant on what otherwise would have been a regular Tuesday morning.
“I came around the hallway and I just saw everyone ringing cowbells and swishing their pompoms, and it was an amazing feeling. I was honestly just so overwhelmed with emotion,” Dyer said with tears in her eyes. “I’m just so grateful for this. My kids really needed this and it just wouldn’t be possible without this grant or the Dothan Education Foundation.”
Dyer plans on using the grant for a “Minds in Motion” project, in which she will reinvent her classroom and develop a learning space that is most profitable to her students with a strong focus on their sensory needs.
The teacher submitted a detailed project budget along with a grant proposal last spring, which divides the funds into purchasing putty, inflatable exercise balls, bumpy gel seat cushions, wobble chairs, light softening filters, and foam cinder blocks.
Dyer picked up on the need for students to have an outlet for their energy while working on tasks, and wanted to create an environment that aids in their learning.
Dothan Education Foundation communications director Meagan Dorsey has been one of the many people surprising teachers with grant checks this year, and said that catching educators off-guard has drummed up a lot of emotions.
“We really have been going all out with balloons and everything, it’s been so fun,” Dorsey said. “Seeing teachers’ faces when you surprise them is really special. You can see it on their face that they’re so happy to know they have the support of a community organization like the Dothan Education Foundation.”
DEF will be awarding a total of $50,082.87 in grants this year that will provide different learning experiences to about 5,870 students. There are still eight schools to award grants to in the next two days, and Dorsey said videos and photos of check presentations are available on DEF’s Facebook and Instagram stories.