For many of us, last fall’s Hurricane Michael is a distant memory. However, residents of South Georgia and the Florida panhandle are still dealing with the storm’s aftermath. In particular, Springfield Elementary School in Panama City suffered such extensive damage that students and staff were relocated to another school in the area.
The story of Springfield Elementary’s ruin touched the hearts of students 200 miles away at Double Churches Elementary School in Columbus. There, fifth-grade teacher Eric Crouch and his students have raised more than $700,000 for classroom supplies for Florida’s Bay District schools, plus an additional $13,000 in cash. And they’re not finished yet. Crouch’s students have ongoing Skype sessions with their Sunshine State counterparts to determine other ways they can help.
It’s not the first time one of Crouch’s classes has stepped up to help others in need. Last year, his fifth-graders made Christmas ornaments using the school’s 3-D printers and sold them to help prevent an impoverished African school from closing.
These are just two of the projects that have allowed Crouch’s students to pursue what they’re passionate about and achieve extraordinary results. His methods haven’t gone unnoticed. He is a finalist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019, which is considered the Nobel Prize of teaching and includes a $1 million award. Out of more than 10,000 nominations from 179 countries, he is among the top 50 finalists.
From left, Springfield Elementary Principal Ilea Faircloth, Bay District Schools Director of Human Resources Sharon Michalik, Title 1 Executive Director Lisa Dunnigan and Double Churches teacher Eric Crouch.
Photo provided by Eric Crouch.