Teachers make history with new teacher grants

Teachers make history with new teacher grants

For the first time in the history of the Alabama Power Foundation New Teacher Grant Program, teachers at the same school have been honored in the same year.  The $1,000 grants were presented to Carlie Nygra and Teresa Starr of New Brockton Elementary in Coffee County.

Both recipients are graduates of Troy University Dothan and were nominated for the award by Charlotte Minnick, associate professor and director of Teacher Education Program, Certification & Accreditation at Troy-Dothan. Minnick cited both teachers’ work ethic and high academic standing in her recommendation.

Starr and Nygra are among 13 first-year teachers awarded the grants for 2015.

New Brockton Elementary is home to Coffee County’s only “First Class” pre-K program. Starr, who teaches the class, may be a first-year teacher, but she is not new to education. After working as an aide in the Fort Rucker school system for 15 years, she decided to go back to school and earn her degree. With two of her children in college, she continued to work while attending classes before graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

New Brockton Elementary Principal Kelly Cobb said the First Class program has received glowing reports from the state monitoring teams, which visit periodically.

“We are one of only 101 First Class pre-K programs in the state,” Cobb said. “We are fortunate to have such an enthusiastic and professional teacher at its helm.”

Teachers express appreciation for jobs, grants

Nygra works with students with disabilities from kindergarten through sixth grade.

“I could not have begun my career in a more welcoming place,” she said.  “I teach students with mild to severe disabilities. I teach them to try their best to succeed. I want them to learn that even though life is challenging, it can also be rewarding.”

Starr and Nygra expressed their appreciation to the Alabama Power Foundation.

“Setting up a new classroom is much more involved than most people realize,” Starr said. “A first-year teacher starts out with a clean canvass and wants to put his or her own touch on the classroom. This grant is a great help with that.”

“Improving education in our state is a central focus of the Alabama Power Foundation,” said John Hudson, president of the foundation. “The New Teacher Grant program is an important way that we support teachers and students across the state. These grants empower Alabama’s most promising teachers during their first year in the classroom.”

Other teacher grant winners include:

Ke’haulani Carpenter 

Coldwater Elementary (Anniston), Jacksonville State University


Jasmine Crittendon

J.E. Williams Elementary (Huntsville), Alabama A&M University


James H. Dunkle

Phenix City Elementary, Troy University – Phenix City Campus


Jillian Leigh Eshelman

Morris Avenue Intermediate School (Auburn), Auburn University at Montgomery


Nina Mothershed

Davis Elementary (Montgomery), Alabama State University


Karlin Phillips

Green Valley Elementary (Hoover), University of Alabama at Birmingham


Thomas Smith

Hibbett Middle School (Florence), University of North Alabama


Whitney Faulkner Sutherland

Rolling Hills Elementary (Huntsville), Athens State University


Erica Marie Vatella

Auburn High School, Auburn University


Morgan Vickers

Brookwood Middle School (Vance), University of Alabama


Lauren Welch

Kate Shepard Elementary (Mobile), University of South


To learn more about the foundation and Alabama Power’s community and volunteer programs, please visit www.powerofgood.com.’

This post was originally published on Alabama NewsCenter.