BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WALA) – A Baldwin County High School science teacher was in for a big surprise on Tuesday morning, September 20, 2022. Each year, the University of South Alabama (USA) selects a group of winners for their Extra Yard Award. The winning teachers receive cash prizes for classroom projects.
Bate’s first Earth and Space course was the setting for the US awards team to announce the news. It definitely took the class by surprise when Miss Pawla, the Jags cheerleader and school mascot, showed up with a big check and announced that her teacher, Hunter Bates, had been selected as one of this year’s winners.
“Yeah. Then I’m like, ‘I won. I won the five hundred dollars.’ It was a big deal,” Bates said. “DR. Paige and USA, I just want to thank everyone for coming out because you… the five hundred dollars is for the kids.”
“The opportunity for our students to engage in authentic learning is really important. It gives them that hands-on experience. They are doing something that improves their own community,” said US faculty representative Dr. Paige Vitulli.
Bates entered the competition hoping to expand on an outdoor project he started with some of his classes last year. There has been a pond near the entrance to the campus for many years that has been derelict. BCHS Senior, Kareem Stevens and other students cleaned and patched it up last year and brought it back to life.
“It feels great that we’ve done something to actually be recognized for that and have everything and then other classes, like you said, experimentation and all that … can do projects and do cool stuff with it,” Stevens said .
Now the pond supports a variety of plants and animals. Bates often takes his classes outdoors to study, using the pond as a centerpiece for environmental conservation. He said this $500.00 check will help do just that.
“We just want to make sure we have everything for them and they’re ready for the real world, and for me to be able to do that I need more income so I can give them more hands-on experience because I can teach them that through this book.” every day, but the reality is that kids will learn more by being outside and having hands-on experience,” Bates explained.
Most of the money is spent on technology that allows Bates to project images from his microscope onto the video scoreboard in his classroom. This will bring the microscopic world of the pond to life and use time much more efficiently.
Other winners here in Mobile County included entries from Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies, Clark-Shaw Magnet School and Williamson High School. All winners also received two tickets to the Jags’ home game against LA Tech this weekend. Congratulations to all winners.
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