Teachers get money for pens, markers, things that students get everyday use out of -- but try getting something that might fall out of the confines of everyday use. Money doesn't come so easily for those things.
That's where the Beaufort County School District Foundation for Educational Excellence comes in.
The foundation distributes grants twice a year to teachers looking to go above and beyond the normal classroom exercises. The foundation distributed $5,000 to 14 teachers in the district in the most recent round.
Aside from donations from individual people and businesses, the foundation relies on an annual fundraiser. This year, Jewels and Jeans will be held March 2 at The Country Club of Hilton Head. It has distributed $25,000 over the past three years to about 75 teachers.
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The grants are small -- none of the 14 awarded was more than $500 this go-around -- but the difference they make can be big.
For example, fourth-grade teacher Tennille Scheriff at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts received $257 for picture books on Westward expansion.
She said they'll help students imagine what it was like to be a child during that era. She'll also spend the money on clay for children to create busts, furthering the school's mission to integrate arts into the everyday curriculum.
Like many of the teachers, Scheriff jumped for joy when the "prize patrol," consisting of two foundation members, surprised her in her classroom last week to deliver the grant.
The lesson would have continued without the grant, but the materials will provide a more interactive experience.
"We're going to have a blast," Scheriff said. "We try to get these kids learning in a variety of ways."
Teachers also will report three months later on how the grants benefited their students.
Beaufort Middle School teacher Dana Scaglione received $130 for 30 recorders for his students taking a general music class.
Playing an instrument and reading music has shown to improve cognitive developmentin students and can help in other academic areas.
He plans on tracking the students' grades in other subjects to note any improvement.
"Teachers so often have to use their own money for projects like this or just don't do the project," foundation chairwoman Jan Davis-Vater said. "When you do anything that's a bit out of the box you have to get creative to make it happen. We're hoping we can help innovate."
CELEBRITY CHEF/MOM SUPPORTS BEAUFORT COUNTY SCHOOLS
Orchid Paulmeier has seen a few different sides of the school system.
The owner of One Hot Mama's barbecue joint has three children going through the system now. But her husband, Michael, taught third and fourth grade for four years at Hilton Head Island Elementary.
"I know what teachers have to do to make it," she said. "I know they have to dip into their own pockets sometimes."
Orchid will receive the Inspiration Award at the Foundation of Educational Excellence's annual fundraiser, "Jewels and Jeans" (which means you're welcome to show up in denim).
Her kids have been brought up through the Beaufort County schools, the oldest now in Bluffton Middle School. All went through AMES Academy, a magnet program that focuses on math, engineering and science.
Like so many other parents, she got wrapped up in school fundraising and PTO meetings. Unlike many parents, she was a contestant on season seven of "Food Network Star." Her barbecue can get a lot of people out to school events.
"She's given a lot back to the school district," foundation chairwoman Jan Davis-Vater said.
She'll be making barbecue and Lumpia, or Filipino egg rolls, at the foundation's fundraiser.
"It's great that I can take part in this fundraiser," she said. "(The foundation) really helps out in the big picture.