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Winners of Strong Schools Grants from Unum and its Starmount subsidiary are, front row from left, Phyllis Cisneros, Lauren Justice, Kristen Manning, Lori Ridgdell, Andrew Chapman, Febbe Robertson and Lorie Gaubert; and second row, Steven Farrar, Gia Washington, John Underwood, Savannah LeJeune, Dawn Gray, Karen Wooley, Angela Walker and Regina Thomas.

In East Baton Rouge Parish, 15 educators start this school year with recognition and $1,000 each in financing for their innovative teaching ideas.

Unum and its Starmount subsidiary awarded $15,000 in Strong Schools Grants to local public school teachers during a reception Aug. 20. The grants are given to teachers who demonstrate effective and creative ideas to engage students and improve their learning levels, according to a news release.

Some educators will use the money to purchase new teaching aids and materials, such as STEM kits, science lab equipment and virtual reality technology for social studies lessons. Others will obtain resources and establish new initiatives such as mentoring programs that also foster character development and confidence.

The winners of 2019 Strong Schools Grants are:

  • Andrew Chapman of Glasgow Middle School, for the Strong Man Academy, a program designed to support young boys and further their character development.
  • Phyllis Cisneros of Parkview Elementary, for a partnership with community musicians and the LSU School of Music that allows third- and fourth-grade students to explore music and self-expression to enhance their English/language arts skills.
  • Steven Farrar of Southeast Middle School, for engineering kits to help implement the Next Generation Science Standards curriculum.
  • Lorie Gaubert of Southeast Middle School, for hands-on learning items for the robotics class.
  • Dawn Gray of Audubon Elementary, for implementation of the “Author’s Chair” project allowing students to share their reading and writing work in a fun, creative outlet.
  • Lauren Justice of LaSalle Elementary, for STEM kits and picture books that connect abstract learning concepts with visual representations.
  • Savannah LeJeune of Park Elementary, for materials for kindergarten students to master mathematical skills in a fun, student-led environment.
  • Kristen Manning of the Baton Rouge Center for Visual & Performing Arts, to help create a student-led podcast.
  • Lori Ridgdell of Woodlawn High School, for microscopes for biology students.
  • Febbe Robertson of Woodland Middle School, to help establish a vegetable garden for students to explore different science concepts while learning about better health and nutrition.
  • Regina Thomas of Brownfields Elementary, for a STEM kit for the Young Scientists Club, allowing students to compete in robotics challenges.
  • John Underwood of Baton Rouge Magnet High School, to expand the biology lab and science lessons for students.
  • Angela Walker of Westdale Middle School, to implement the Handsome Hawks Program for male students to accelerate their social, academic and career skills through workshops, counseling and mentor activities.
  • Gia Washington of Claiborne Elementary, for a GeoLab to explore and analyze social studies lessons in a virtual-reality environment, exploring notable cities, geographical landmarks and historical events.
  • Karen Wooley of Arlington Preparatory Academy, to purchase tools that promote health and fitness among students at school.