Extra Yard for Teachers Week

Posted on September 9, 2021 by Amber Day
Amber Day

The top three Extra Yard for Teachers Classroom Project Contest winners were featured at the recent Jags vs Alcorn State football game at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

The University of South Alabama College of Education and Professional Studies and the South Alabama Athletics Department recently partnered with the College Football Playoff Foundation to celebrate teachers in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Extra Yard for Teachers Week was September 13-18, 2021. 

“Extra Yard for Teachers Week allows us to bring recognition to our area teachers and to say ‘thank you’ for all they do daily to make an impact on their students and communities,” said Dr. John Kovaleski, interim dean of the USA College of Education and Professional Studies.

To show appreciation, the USA Classroom Project Contest provided teachers with an opportunity to win gift cards to help them accomplish their classroom project. The goal of the classroom project contest is to assist educators in making a direct impact on student learning. The College of Education and Professional Studies and the College Football Playoff Foundation provided one $550 gift card and two $250 gift cards to the teachers who submitted the best project ideas for classroom enrichment. The College Football Playoff Foundation surprised South this year and gave seven additional $100 Donors Choose gift cards for the Classroom Project Contest. More than 60 educators submitted project proposals.

The top three winners were featured at the September 18, 2021 Jags vs. Alcorn State football game at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

$550 winner: 
Darlene Castelin, Phillips Preparatory School, 6th grade
Project Name: STEM Garden

$250 winners: 
Rachel Gebhart, Magnolia Elementary School, K-6th grades
Project Name: Drum It!

David Dai, Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies,  8-9th grades
Project Name: The Look Like Me Library

$100 winners:  
Brittni Wright, Satsuma High School, 7-12th grades
Project Name: Sensory Room Makeover

Rebekah Campbell, W.C. Griggs Elementary, 3rd grade
Project name: Full STEM Ahead-STEM Bins for Students!

Annie Fitzgerald, O'Rourke Elementary, 1st grade 
Project Name: Plants for Profit 

Jabari Jackson, BC Rain High School, 11-12th grades
Project Name: Financial Literacy

Leah Willisson, Fairhope East Elementary, 6th grade
Project Name: Learning from Watt Key

Kerryn Hollins, Murphy High School, 10th grade
Project Name: Chapter Chats

Jami Martin, W. D. Robbins Elementary, 5th grade
Project Name: Broadcasting in the Classroom

The top winner, Darlene Castelin, was surprised at her school on Tuesday, September 14 with a special visit from the University of South Alabama. Paige Vitulli, interim chair of the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education, presented a big check to Castelin, who was surrounded by her students, South cheerleaders, and the SouthPaw mascot to celebrate the award. 

Castelin's project proposal summary for "STEM Garden" is below:

"Our goal is to create an outdoor space designed, constructed and maintained by our student body, through our IB Design and STEM programs. Students will create an outdoor space to include: organic gardening, rainwater collection and irrigation, vermicomposting, outdoor cooking, a pollinator garden, and a small greenhouse. The garden will provide a space for students to carry out hands-on STEM and IB Design projects, activities, and investigations. It will also provide a space for students to get their hands dirty, work as a team, learn valuable skills, and spend time in nature. We planted a small garden last year and our students LOVED planting seedlings and blueberry bushes, harvesting and tasting vegetables, and constructing a small pre-fab greenhouse. Creating a larger space would definitely allow our students to do so many great things!"

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