Last week, 49ers EDU teamed up with long-time partner the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation to honor three incredible Bay Area teachers who are making an impact in the lives of their students, fellow teachers and community. On Monday, September 14th teachers across the country were surprised with $1,000 Donor Choose grants as a part of The Big Day, the largest single-day effort of community impact ever undertaken by the extended college football family.
49ers EDU director Jesse Lovejoy was joined by members of the CFP Foundation via Zoom to surprise the teachers. They had no idea what to expect and hearing they would be receiving $1,000 grants left them speechless. Each teacher was nominated by a fellow educator who saw them go above and beyond this past year for their students and community. As schools across the Bay Area closed for in-person learning, these three teachers have gone above and beyond in finding ways to keep their students engaged and learning throughout COVID-19.
Here's a look at the winning teachers and why they were chosen to be a part of The Big Day:
Patti Jenkins, Scott Lane Elementary
Patti Jenkins was nominated by Santa Clara Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Kathie Kanavel, who recognized her for going above and beyond to serve her students and community not just in this last year but in her entire teaching career.
When asked what her initial reaction was to hearing that she would be receiving a $1,000 grant, Jenkins was shocked but incredibly grateful. "I was definitely surprised because I work in a community where everyone works hard, especially with this pandemic going on," said Jenkins. "This award could have been given to anyone in my school. I really want to share this money with my school because they have given me so much support over the last 20 years. It's truly a wonderful community to work with."
Peter Wang, San Francisco International High School
Peter Wang was nominated by two of his fellow teachers at San Francisco International High School who both highlighted his kindness and dedication to his students all year long, but especially during distance learning.
Wang's favorite part about being a teacher is not as much what he can teach his students but what his students can teach him. "For me, being a teacher means challenging myself to constantly learn new things from and about my students," said Wang. "It is about growing alongside your students and learning as much from them as they are learning within the school community."
Wang plans to use the grant money to provide as many students as possible with comfortable headphones and cost-efficient lap desks to make distance learning a better experience for those who do not have a deisgnated place where they can learn.
Shaylah Ellis, Skyline High School
Shaylah Ellis was nominated by Head Football Coach at Skyline Joe Bates for her ability to reach young men and women at the school by building strong relationships and trust with her students. Most of all, Bates highlighted her passion for teaching and for her students.
When asked how she plans to use the grant money, Ellis emphasized that she really wants to to do something special for her students. "I'm thinking of taking care packages to my students' homes to check in on them," said Ellis. "I want to use the money to buy snacks and supplies they might need, planners, pencils, notebooks etc. and deliver it to their homes – anything I can do to help them through this time."
This is not the first time the 49ers have partnered with the CFP Foundation. Back in 2019 when Levi's® Stadium hosted the College Football Playoff National Championship, 49ers EDU and the CFP Foundation teamed up on several initiatives across the Bay Area to benefit local teachers. The CFP Foundation is also a sponsor of the annual Dr. Harry Edwards Follow Your Bliss awards which honors Bay Area teachers who inspire their students to chase their dreams and follow their bliss.