Tuesday was a pleasant day outside.
And it was also beautiful inside.
A small army of people representing the Abilene Education Foundation spent the better part of five hours going from campus to campus presenting checks to Abilene ISD educators, rewarding them for thinking outside the box and their students.
This year, 72 scholarships were to be awarded to 102 teachers on 23 AISD campuses.
The “Prize Parade” will continue on Wednesday with those who weren’t surprised with money on the first day.
Joining the parade on Tuesday were AISD board members and two special guests at two stops, former superintendent David Polnick and his daughter, Julie.
The Mary Ann Polnick Teacher Grants were awarded Tuesday to the Long Early Learning Center, then to Abilene High.
Mary Annette Polnick was a lifelong teacher who completed the last 31 years of her teaching career in the Abilene District. She passed away in 2012.
Her husband attended Alta Vista, Johnson, and Bonham elementary schools before entering administration.
The AHS grant went to Rachel Perkins, who teaches math in grades 9-12. She uses the free version of a program called Alpha Beta Delta Gamma Math. Her scholarship was only $145, but it will buy a better version of the math curriculum and, she says, students will quickly see the difference.
Perkins was alone in her room, with a dual-credit course scheduled next.
She broke into a big smile when the group entered her room, led by AHS Principal Emme Siburt.
She had the key.
“Thanks thanks thanks!” Perkins exclaimed, rising from his desk – and what looked like a lunch of crackers and dip – and waved his arms in celebration. “I love it. Thank you very much.”
She hugged David Polnick, who then stood on one end of the oversized check made out to “Star Teachers” for “Big Bucks”, defined as “$$$”.
Dressed in a blue AEF shirt that matched the blue frames of his glasses, Polnick was thrilled to be back in school. He retired from education in 2010 and had served the Abilene ISD from 1976, he said. He was its superintendent for seven years.
“I miss people,” he said. Board meetings? Not that much, he admitted.
The grant money will help teachers “do something for their children that doesn’t come out of their pockets,” he said.
The scholarship named after his late wife is for teachers who focus on math and science.
“Delta Math is a wonderful program that I’ve enjoyed using with my students for years,” Perkins told the group. The paid version “offers so much more good stuff”.
It is linked to Google Classroom, which Perkins often uses. Students can use the program on Chromebooks, which means they can work from school or from home.
“It allows me to do more with them,” she said. The program can also match a student’s math level — if a student doesn’t need as much help, that student can work at a higher level, she said.
Perkins has been an educator for over 30 years. She is in her ninth year at AHS and 17th in the district, starting at Travis Opportunity Center (now closed. She moved to Clack Middle School before going to Abilene High.
Before that, she taught at Abilene Christian University, where her husband, Scott, is a professor of psychology.
Once she learns to incorporate the new version of the math curriculum, the students will get started, she said.
This will, of course, come after she tells them what they missed on Tuesday while they were at lunch.
And after finishing his.