Teach-Off seeks nominations for $10,000 grants

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Terry Dougherty accepts her $10,000 check in 2011. Roland Rogers Principal Robin Moore is behind her. (Submitted) Terry Dougherty accepts her $10,000 check in 2011. Roland Rogers Principal Robin Moore is behind her. (Submitted)

GALLOWAY – Friday, Feb. 15 is the deadline for nominations for the Great American Teach-Off, a contest won by a local teacher two years ago that will award two more teachers from grades k-12 with $10,000 classroom grants.

The contest is sponsored by the University of Phoenix and Good Worldwide, an integrated media and community action platform whose mission is to connect and empower the global community of people for the common good, according to its website. Anyone can nominate innovative or inspiring teachers at www.good.is/gato, where contest details are provided.

Twenty finalists will be chosen to compete: 10 from grades k-6 and 10 from grades 7-12. A grant recipient will be chosen from each category.

Terry Dougherty, the 2011 grant recipient, is a third-grade teacher at Roland Rogers Elementary School.

She drew on her own experience in a military family and recognized the hardships military children endure as they transfer from place to place and experience curriculum changes. Dougherty used her grant to develop a free tutoring program for children of military members called Military Child Tutoring – They Are Heroes Too!

Dougherty said she will start enrollment for next summer in April.

“My projected numbers are about 50 to 60 children, and possibly more,” she said. “Recently I've had teachers from the Alpha Delta Kappa Psi teachers sorority Galloway-Egg Harbor Township chapter volunteer to tutor this summer.”

Dougherty said she is a new member of the chapter.

“I'm also working as a consult for a Marine Air Base in North Carolina as they develop a sister program for over 10,000 children,” Dougherty said. “My goal was to expand the program as much as possible, so this is very gratifying. I have also been hired to consult for the University of Phoenix as they develop the same program as mine for the children of their military students.”

She said she likes thinking back to the events leading up to her win.

“It began with an email from Uday Shah of the Absecon-Galloway Rotary,” Dougherty said. “He wanted to let me know that he nominated me for the Great American Teach-Off for the tutoring program.”

The Rotary had been supporting the program by paying for consumable materials.

“About a month later I received a call at work,” Dougherty said. “At first I was surprised that a call would come through to my classroom when I was teaching my students. Academic time is precious in the district, and people calling usually are instructed to please leave messages.”

But school secretary Jill Whittles told Dougherty she thought she should take the call.

“On the other end of the phone were representatives from Good notifying me that I was one of the 10 finalists,” Dougherty said. “Honestly, I was shocked. I started the program because I saw the need and was not looking for publicity. But a $10,000 grant was something we could definitely put to good use.”

She said that after five weeks of voting, with nominees eliminated each week, she was shocked when representatives surprised her at a Veterans Day assembly and presented her with the $10,000 check in front of her students.

“It was a time in my life that is hard to put into words,” Dougherty said. “I was relieved, grateful, ecstatic – and most of all so proud that I could give military children a voice.”

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