APS Teacher Wins $100K Dream Big Teacher Challenge Grant from Farmers Insurance

Emily Max wins $100K from Farmers Insurance (12-1-15)
Toomer Elementary School kindergarten teacher Emily Max won a $100,000 grant in the Farmers Insurance Dream Big Teacher Challenge. The funds will be used to enhance the school playground to make it more accessible to all students and community members.

On “Giving Tuesday,” Toomer Elementary School kindergarten teacher Emily Max was given a big check. A really big check. For $100,000!

Farmers Insurance® announced Tuesday that Max was one of six winners in the $100,000 Dream Big Teacher Challenge, as part of the company’s Thank America’s Teachers℠ program. Appropriately, the announcement came on the global day dedicated to giving back.

Max will use the $100,000 Dream Big Teacher Challenge grant to build an inclusive playground at Toomer Elementary that is accessible for the school’s special needs students. The play space will include low structures with ramps, low monkey bars, and balance building stations.  Max, an Atlanta native who lives in the historic Kirkwood community where Toomer is located, has wanted a play area at the school that everyone can enjoy.

“It feels amazing,” said Max, who began working at Toomer 10 years ago as a paraprofessional. She went on to teach pre-kindergarten for five years before moving to kindergarten, which she has taught for the past two years. “I want to thank Farmers Insurance for the opportunity to apply for this grant. I’m just overwhelmed and excited.”

The Thank America’s Teachers program, enables people everywhere to say thank you to teachers who made an impact on their lives. In addition to awarding 180 grants valued at $2,500 throughout the year to recognize the great work that teachers do every day, Farmers took the program one step further by developing the Dream Big Teacher Challenge, offering teachers a chance to compete for six $100,000 educational grants.

In total, Farmers will award teachers across the country more than $1 million in educational grants in 2015. Farmers encourages teachers from around the country to continue to dream big and start thinking about proposal ideas for next year’s $2,500 and $100,000 grant opportunities, which will be open for submission as early as January. Additionally, Farmers offers anyone the chance to thank a teacher at ThankAmericasTeachers.com.

To Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen, “Dream Big Teacher Challenge” is an appropriate name for the contest.

“Emily had a dream of a playground that would bring this community even closer together, one that was enhanced in such a way as to be more inclusive for those individuals with special needs,” Dr. Carstarphen said. “We are incredibly grateful to Farmers Insurance for their commitment to education and to helping teachers fulfill their dreams for their schools.”

While Max was on the receiving end of a gift on Tuesday, she is proud of the fact that her grant will provide a gift to Toomer and the Kirkwood community for years to come.

“It’s going to be an amazing process watching it being built, amazing watching the kids playing on it, and amazing 10 years from now when kids are still playing on it,” Max said.


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