Through its donors, the foundation's Teacher Grant Program has been able to provide more than $1 million in grants to teachers across Bartow County.
The Bartow Education Foundation was established in the early 2000s as a nonprofit organization designed to provide additional support for the Bartow County School System, its employees and students.
Dot Frasier, executive director for the foundation, said the annual banquet is an opportunity to recognize those who, through their donations, helped Bartow County schools.
"Despite the economy, this has been our best year ever for donations," Frasier said. "This year we received over $80,000."
Bartow teachers who are seeking additional classroom funding can apply for a grant up to $500 through the foundation. A three-person panel will evaluate the request and if approved, the teacher will receive the funding to be used toward classroom improvement based upon their request.
Teachers applying for a grant have to establish the need for opportunity given by the program they wish funded, program objectives, an assessment of the program, the program's impact and the program's budget.
Frasier said grants are primarily targeted toward reading and math improvement, but encourage teachers to be creative with their students and help reach them on a different level.
Frasier noted, for example, a math teacher making a game out of blocks and other shapes to teach geometry lessons.
"When you're able to reach students this way, they feel like they're playing," Frasier said. "I've talked with teachers who are still using lessons they've created through grants that are five to six years old."
The funding can also be used, Frasier said, for helping students find and develop a love for reading.
She explained how a teacher with students struggling to read books on their grade level was able to purchase high-interest books on a lower reading level. She said this method encouraged these students to read more and build to a higher reading level.
"The kids absolutely loved them (books)," Frasier said. "If you learn to love to read then you become a lifetime reader."
This year, grant money was approved for the purchase of Kindle e-readers for a special needs teacher in order to help struggling students by incorporating the use of multiple senses.
Frasier said although teachers from every school and every grade level receive grants, there is a strong focus on helping younger students develop and retain skills to help them throughout their academic career.
This method has proven successful for Bartow schools.
"Our test scores are up and our dropout rate is down," Frasier said. "We help prepare students for when it is time to apply for scholarships so they can receive those scholarships."
Dr. John Harper, superintendent for Bartow County Schools, said the grant money is an excellent tool for helping teachers to implement new strategies in their classrooms.
"After a teacher has taught a class, they know what the kids are into and they can find ways in which to reach their kids," Harper said.
Frasier added, "If you just listen to children, you will hear their needs."