The Education Foundation Awards $21,000 for Innovative Projects


The Education Foundation of Alachua County awarded $21,000 in teacher grants on Wednesday to four Alachua County Schools through the Foundation’s new Catalyst for Change program. The Foundation presented the awards to Mebane Middle School, Meadowbrook Elementary School, Idylwild Elementary School and Gainesville High School.

This will be the first giveaway of monies through the Catalyst for Change program, which Judy Boles, executive director of the foundation, said is “meant to change the ways students are learning and teachers are teaching.”

The program focuses on career/technical education, increasing graduation rates, literacy, low-performing
students, STEM education and teaching quality.

The Foundation received 12 grant applications from Alachua County teachers and selected the 5 most innovative teacher projects. The projects range from Melissa Baker’s “The More We Read, The Better We Read,” aimed at improving literacy in students grades 2 through 5 to Timothy Hinchman’s “The Singularity is Near: Physics of the Future” aimed at increasing student interest in STEM education through the use of cybernetics.

Catalyst for Change is funded through donations from the local Alachua County community and from dollar-for-dollar matching funds from the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF).

The winners of this first round of awards are:

Timothy Hinchman , Mebane, “The Singularity is Near: Physics of the Future”

Linda Zidonik, Meadowbrook, “Lighting Up Their World”

Brooke Newell, Meadowbrook, “Read to Achieve”

Jay Schaub, GHS, “Increasing Labs and Instructional Effectiveness for GHS Chemistry”

Melissa Baker, Idylwild, “The More We Read, The Better We Read”


Melissa Baker receiving her award.

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Timothy Mebane with Education Foundation staff.

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Chemistry students from Gainesville High School with teacher Jay Schaub in the back.

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Teacher Linda Zidonik (black sweater) with Education Foundation staff.

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Education Foundation Director Judy Doles gives a presentation to Meadowbrooke students.

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The Education Foundation of Alachua County, Inc. is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1986, whose mission is to invest in the future of Alachua County’s public school students. The foundation administers multiple programs including Take Stock in Children, Horse Tales Literacy Project, Senior Scholarships, and Catalyst for Change Teacher Grants. The Education Foundation also supports teacher and employee recognition events as well as provides funding for staff development training.

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