EATEL awards $5,000 in grants to 10 Ascension teachers

Michael Tortorich
EATEL?president Robert Burgess, at left, and Ascension Parish Schools superintendent Donald Songy, at right, pose with the 2009 “Reach A Kid, Teach A Kid” grant winners. EATEL, a Gonzales-based communications company, awarded the 10 teachers each a 
$500 grant.

Gonzales-based communications company EATEL honored 10 Ascension Parish teachers Wednesday evening in the annual “Reach A Kid, Teach A Kid” grant program.

A total of $5,000 in grants were awarded, with $500 going to each winning teacher.

EATEL awards the grants each year to parish teachers to support unique teaching programs designed to enrich their classrooms. The program provides teachers with funds to implement their own unique lessons to inspire and motivate their students. Grants are awarded based on creativity of ideas.

EATEL has awarded more than $50,000 in teacher grants since the start of the program more than a decade ago.

Teachers from both public and private schools have received grants. Winners represent every level of education, from primary, middle and high schools.

“EATEL will continue to fund educational projects that deepen the involvement of both teachers and students, stimulate the in-class learning process and produce measurable benefits for the students involved,” said Robert Burgess, president of EATEL.

Burgess said his most exceptional days as president of the company are when he awards local teachers grants.

“You represent the best,” he told the award-winning teachers in attendance at a ceremony in the company’s lobby on Worthey Road.

A member of the Blueprint Louisiana Board of Trustees, which is an organization led by business and community leaders from throughout the state, Burgess said teachers play a key role in the future of the state and nation.

He said EATEL recently rolled out a new advertisement campaign touting the strength of the schools in the area.

“We’re so very thankful that you’re here,” he said to the teachers.

Burgess also noted some of the teachers have won grants multiple times over the years. One of the most prolific has been Janis Ament, a second-fifth grade teacher at St. Theresa of Avila in Gonzales.

Burgess announced a surprise special gift for Ament: the next two years she will receive her award for free without applying.

Ascension Parish superintendent Donald Songy also spoke highly of the teachers.

“The people of Ascension are so fortunate to have the schools we have here,” Songy said.

He credited the teachers as the reason for the quality schools.

“The No. 1 thing is great teachers in every classroom,” he said.

He also acknowledged that teaching can be difficult, especially when it comes to getting children motivated and competing against distractions.

He added that schools are successful because of the “tremendous community support.”

“It’s all one big team. We all work together in this,” he said.

Songy thanked EATEL for all of the support given to the school system over the years.

“We’ve never approached EATEL for help where they haven’t said yes,” Songy said.

With the help of EATEL communications manager Trae Russell and public relations coordinator Meghann Hebert, Songy and Burgess personally handed each of the winning teachers a certificate.

The 2009 grant winners are:

• Janis Ament, St. Theresa of Avila, second-fifth grades, project: Let the Good Times Roll in Art!

• Melissa Bankhead, LeBlanc Special Services, K-second grades, project: Dancing Fingers – I Can Read Too

• Bryan Bertucci, St. Amant High, ninth-12th grades, project: Music Literacy Through Immersion

• Karen Blunt, St. John Primary, first grade, project: Math Investigation Station

• Pamela Boudreaux, Lake Elementary, sixth-eighth grades, project: So You’re a Rocket Scientist

• Pam Gautreau, Lake Elementary, second grade, project: Write Me Somethin’ (Mister and Sister)

• Alana Jackson, Prairieville Primary, fourth grade, project: Math Marketplace

• Cindy Peterson, Galvez Primary, preschool-fourth grade, Project: SAY-N-PLAY

• Kim Smith, Prairieville Primary, K-fifth grades, project: American Girls’ Club

 • Shana Wilson, Pecan Grove Primary, fourth grade, Lights! Camera! Action! Write!