Teachers rewarded for their hard work with grants from the Alabama Power Foundation

April 11, 2017 | Community | Alabama Power Foundation

Vickie Otto prides herself on being a good mother and grandmother. She calls Chambers County home where she resides on a small farm.

Otto is one of 16 new teachers to receive $1,000 teacher grants from the Alabama Power Foundation to help with expenses in the classroom.

A few pages from her life shows that It’s never too late for new beginning.

Otto’s passion for education is infectious and undeniable as she talks about her profession. “I put in long hours to do this, but bottom line, I love these kids.”

The current Valley High School teacher said a career in education wasn’t her initial job choice, but as life would have it, a new love was sparked years ago when she first worked as a substitute teacher at Springwood School in Lanett. Otto says it was more of a calling. And it was unexpected.

A love for special education was also ignited. That began when Otto was offered a position of paraeducator working directly with students in a classroom at W.F. Burns Middle School in Valley.

And her passion for education remains so strong, she continues her own professional training at Auburn University. Otto is working to obtain a Masters in Collaborative Special Education K-12.

“The day they called me to give me that money, I felt like it was God’s way of saying that He’d been watching me. I’ve gladly invested my own resources and I felt it was His way of giving it back.”

Jeremy Crum said by being awarded the new teacher grant, he’s inspired to work even harder for his students. (contributed)

Jeremy Crum is an educator in the Montgomery Public School Systemand another winner of a 2017 new teacher grant. Physical Education is how he helps his students excel at Garrett Elementary School, but that’s not all.

This young teacher is well aware of his opportunity to teach students life lessons and he takes full advantage of it.

“This is not just about them being physically active,” said Crum. “I want them to know about life and have the skills to go through it. A lot of children are lacking those basic life skills.”

One skill Crum is uniquely qualified to teach – overcoming limitations. He focuses on physical activity, but has no gym for his lessons at Garrett Elementary. His sessions mainly take place outside with students. A cramped, portable trailer becomes the class when inclement weather strikes.

Crum (left) is joined by his mother and father, whom he calls his role model. (contributed)

Connie Dacus is Instructor of Pedagogy at Alabama State University, where Jeremy graduated. She, along with others, have taken notice of how Crum makes the most out of his unique situation.

“I travel the route that his school is located and I see him outside with his students all active and engaged.”

“My goal going into the classroom is to be as motivational and impactful as I can,” said Crum. “This award shows I’m doing something right and I’ll continue to strive for greatness.”

And while he works hard to motivate others, he readily credits his dad as his greatest source of inspiration. Jeremy watched his dad work as an educator and school coach and saw the influence his father had on children.

“I want to serve as a positive role model to as many kids as I can. I want to lead and direct them as much as I can.”

Since 1995 this program has honored deserving and talented teachers by giving them financial assistance for their classrooms. The $1,000 grants provide funds for classroom supplies beyond those provided by the school budget. A winner is chosen from each of Alabama’s 16 public four-year colleges and universities that have a state approved teacher-education program. The grants are awarded to graduates who fulfilled the requirements for an education major and secured employment in Alabama with an accredited public school as a first-year teacher this year.

Since the program’s beginning, the Alabama Power Foundation has provided almost 300 first year teachers additional funding to help enhance their students’ classroom experience.

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