By MARINA WATERS
The new year is here and in the Washington County School System, that means the annual Quality Educational Support for Tomorrow or QUEST grants are to be awarded.
This year two Washington County educators, Stephanie Tolley and Cheryl Honeycutt, were awarded more than $6,000 each by the QUEST foundation.
“This is a day of celebration,” Quest Director Jim Harlan said at the grant ceremony held at the Washington County Department of Education. “This is a day that we celebrate education and learning in Washington County Schools. And that’s a common passion that we have — a passion for learning. And it’s that passion for learning that draws us all together.”
QUEST has gathered funds for the school system for the past seven years and has awarded grants to 52 classrooms in 14 schools throughout the county. QUEST has awarded $138,000 in total.
But this year, instead of awarding numerous teachers with a small amount, QUEST opted to heed the requests from educators in order to better equip a classroom with new technology.
“When we first started seven years ago, most grants were $1,000 to $2,000,” Harlan said. “So we were able to give probably eight to 10 grants a year. But the teachers came back and said, ‘While we’re appreciative of that, is there anyway we could raise the level of dollars so that we can do more in an individual classroom?’ So the board considered that and decided that’s what we should do.”
Tolley, who is an English and language arts and social studies teacher at Jonesborough Middle School, was awarded $7,086.21. For the JMS teacher, the funds will be used to sharpen her students’ skills in various subjects.
“I’m going to buy us some new technology so we can actually be competitive with all the other schools in the system and hopefully not only learn some writing skills,” Tolley said, “but incorporate some other things like reading and social studies. It’s going to be used for a lot of different things.”
As for Honeycutt, a fourth grade math and science teacher who was awarded $6,816.01, the grant award will assist her in providing a device for each student in her classroom.
“‘One to One Chromebooks’ is my initiative to get all of my students on some sort of technology,” Honeycutt said. “There are so many resources out there that you can use to better their education and my teaching, so that’s the goal.”
For the Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton, the awarded grants weren’t just a symbol of enhanced technology coming to the Washington County School District; Halliburton thanked the QUEST foundation for its continued education support while also mentioning the initiative taken by those educators who go above and beyond through applying for a grant.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into making application for a grant. It’s competitive,” Halliburton said. “This is something that is certainly outside the realm of what your job responsibilities are. You did not have to take the time to fill out an application and justify what the needs of your classroom were — but they did pay off today.”
As in past years, the Herald & Tribune will be featuring both QUEST grant recipients. Check back for a feature article on Tolley and Honeycutt and their classroom projects.