BBF Selects 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award Winner


MUNCIE—Burris kindergarten teacher Renee Huffman has earned Ball Brothers Foundation’s 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award, an honor that includes a $15,000 grant to her school. Finalists for the award were Michelle Bade, a music teacher at Muncie Community School’s East Washington Academy, and Victoria Gasaway, a science teacher at Wapahani High School. Both Bade and Gasaway will receive $1,000 grants to be applied to their classrooms through their respective schools.

“This year we had our highest number of nominations since the program began in 2013,” said Jud Fisher, president and chief operating officer of the Muncie-based foundation. “In the end, it was Renee who stood out for her excellent teaching methods and principles. Her kindergarten classroom is one filled with joy, exploration, and high expectations. She is an experienced, master teacher, and Delaware County is fortunate to have her.”

The Excellence in Teaching grants program is open to K-12 classroom educators with at least three years of experience in any of the county’s public school systems. The award honors a teacher who brings innovation, enthusiasm, and 21st century skills into the classroom. Each district develops its own selection process and has the opportunity to nominate two candidates between September 1 and February 1.

A five-member panel reviewed the applications and selected the three finalists. The judges included Patricia Clark, chair of Ball State University’s Department of Elementary Education; Gary Pavlechko, director of teaching technology in the Office of Educational Excellence at Ball State University; Kate Love-Jacobson, vice president for training at High Performance Government Network, Fort Wayne; Dale Basham, veteran educator, school administrator, and current President of Muncie Rotary Club; and Chris LaMothe, CEO of Elevate Ventures, former president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and a current member of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

“Without a doubt, this year’s nominees demonstrate that teachers in Delaware County are preparing our students to be excellent problem-solvers, innovators, and citizens. Even beyond teaching core academic content, these teachers are providing authentic learning experiences that teach children responsibility, respect and concern for others, self-confidence, and the ability to collaborate. Through their dedication and commitment to excellence, these teachers are helping to prepare students for very bright futures,” said Fisher.
In 2014, Ball Brothers Foundation awarded nearly $1.5 million in grants specifically for education-related initiatives which include early childhood education, K-12 education, post-secondary education, and out-of-school learning. Overall, the Foundation awarded $6.7 million in grants in 2014. With assets exceeding $165 million, Ball Brothers Foundation grants support arts and culture, education, the environment, health, human services and public affairs. The Muncie-based family foundation gives priority to projects and programs that improve the quality of life in BBF’s home city, county and state.