“What this does is it combines several different functions, it combines an opportunity to raise money for the employees of Bartow County Schools — which is our primary focus — and at the same time it gives you the chance to network with business owners in the community that are like-minded so you can help them with their business and hopefully they can help you with your business,” foundation board member Parnick Jennings said. “... Third and finally, it’s a great time of fellowship and it’s a good opportunity to get out from behind the desk and enjoy some recreational activities, which is always good for you.”
The format for the tournament is a four-person scramble. Interested persons can sign up for the tournament individually or groups can sign up as a team, with entry fees being $125 a person or $500 for a team. Tournament sponsorships also are available at $250, $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 levels.
Tournament winners will receive prizes and a silent auction also will be held during the event, Jennings said, adding there will be between $20,000 and $30,000 in auction items and the prizes range from vacation packages to televisions.
The foundation’s Executive Director Dot Frasier said the growing interest in teacher grants has created a greater need for fundraisers such as the golf tournament.
“We had so many grants [this year] that we had to say no to ... so we decided to bring [the tournament] back,” Frasier said, adding the foundation this year awarded about 175 grants out of the more than 330 teachers who applied for a grant. “We’re all about kids and we want to help kids to be better and be the best they can be.”
She said the grants, paid for through private donations and through fundraisers, allow teachers to further connect with students academically as school districts see less funding from the state and federal level. The grants, for example, have ranged from the introduction of educational games to high-interest books for students who struggle with reading.
Bartow teachers seeking additional classroom funding can apply for a grant up to $500 through the foundation. A three-person panel consisting of former educators from the elementary, middle and high school levels will evaluate the request and, if approved, the teacher will receive the funding to be used toward classroom improvement based upon the request.
“What you don’t realize, unless you’re involved with politics, is the amount of funding for the school systems is cut each year by several million dollars,” Jennings said. “So Bartow County schools, which used to be able to additionally support teachers in the classroom with their needs, are doing good just to keep that number of employees employed within the school system.
“... The Bartow Education Foundation fills that [additional funding] gap.”
Through its donors, the Teacher Grant program has been able to provide more than $1 million in grants to teachers across Bartow County. Both Frasier and Jennings said the funding helps teachers to spend less of their own money when finding ways to help a student succeed.
“[The program] has made a difference and it has helped children to like school, to want to stay in school and to feel like they have a gift and they want to develop it,” Frasier said. “That’s what we want to them to do — to reach their potential.”
The event schedule for the May 20 event is as follows: 11-11:30 a.m. — lunch and tournament registration; 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — live auction; 12:30 to 1 p.m. — warm-up and announcements; 1 p.m. — shotgun start for golf. Tournament prizes will be awarded immediately following play.