The memorable “Apple for the Teacher” lyrics made famous by crooner Bing Crosby way back in 1939 contributed to the bright red fruit becoming the icon for teacher appreciation. The folks at the AWARE Foundation, however, always go with green as the color for teacher rewards. Green — as in the color of money.
Each year for the past 26 years, the Arlington nonprofit has hosted a public campaign seeking nominations for their Award of Excellence that recognizes outstanding educators in Arlington schools. A festive banquet at the end of the campaign honors each teacher nominated, and teachers chosen as winners get cash awards.
The name AWARE stands for “Arlington Will Award and Recognize (Educational) Excellence.” According to AWARE Foundation President Gena Williams, more than 200 Arlington teachers have received cash awards totaling nearly a half-million dollars during the past 26 years. Williams said this year’s awards banquet is set for May 10 at the UTA Bluebonnet Ballroom.
Nominations may be made by anyone in the community including students, parents, fellow teachers, administrators, or friends and neighbors. Self nomination or nomination by a family member will not be accepted.
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A selection committee of community volunteers headed by AWARE Vice President Beth Hellier then observes each nominee in the classroom before choosing winners in various grade-level categories. Winners and runners-up receive cash awards of $3,000 and $1,500 respectively.
“It is a privilege to serve an organization that recognizes and honors outstanding Arlington educators,” said Hellier. “Each year I look forward to receiving the nomination packets and reading the accolades included in each one.”
Hellier said the volunteers serving on the selection committee are always eager to enter the classrooms and begin their observations. Nominated teachers are sometimes nervous at first, Hellier explained, but added that they quickly discover it turns out to be a very positive and rewarding experience. She said prior nominees very often become some of the AWARE Foundation’s strongest advocates.
The complete nomination packet is due on Jan. 11.
Bikes to make Christmas magic for needy kids
Can you imagine the joy on the faces of 824 kids who unexpectedly got a bicycle for Christmas last year? This was 824 children living in families where finances may be so limited that gift-giving at Christmas or any time is impossible.
The gift of these bikes was made possible through the Bikes for Mission Arlington program that was established in 2008 by a couple of dads who took their kids to purchase six bicycles for Mission Arlington.
“Once there, they realized the huge need Mission Arlington has for children’s bicycles,” said Clay Kelley, who has been involved with the Bikes program for a number of years. “There are never enough bikes, nor could they have too many.”
On Saturday at 9 a.m., local families are invited to participate in this year’s Bikes for Mission Arlington program. Everyone will gather in the parking lot at Pantego Christian Academy, 2229 W. Park Row Drive, with bikes and helmets they have purchased to give children being served by Mission Arlington. The group will then caravan with a police escort to Mission Arlington to deliver the bikes.
The goal this year is for 1,000 bikes and helmets to be donated. That means you only have three days to shop for the bike and helmet you and your kids want to donate.
“I would encourage anybody to get involved with bringing a bike and a helmet to Mission Arlington on that day,” said Mission Arlington Executive Director Tillie Burgin in a video message. “The excitement of gathering the bicycles, buying them, putting them in the trucks, coming as a parade down Abram Street directed by the motorcycle police officers — we are cheering everybody on. You don’t want to miss this event.”
Burgin tells the story she heard from a teacher about a youngster who made three trips daily to bring each of his siblings to school on a bike he received through the program. The students had typically been tardy to school, and the bike enabled them to finally get there on time.
The blessing of a family receiving a bicycle is just unexplainable, said Burgin.
Kelley is inviting any local family to participate in the Saturday event and encourages parents to get their kids involved by letting them pick out a bike and helmet appropriate for a child their age. “Bikes is an opportunity to teach your children to put ‘faith with works’ and to look for opportunities to help those in need,” said Kelley.
Anyone wanting to participate is asked to register at www.bikesformissionarlington.org so that organizers will have an idea of how many to expect.
Happy Holidays Gift Market on Saturday & Sunday
Handcrafted and vintage gifts will be for sale at the Happy Holidays Gift Market in the Arlington Museum of Art this weekend. The shop is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
“Local artisans and collectors from a variety of backgrounds will share their enthusiasm for what they create and collect with all that are interested,” said Cathy Stein from the 817 Arts Alliance, who is hosting the event.
Shop for ceramics, jewelry, artisanal soap, photos, holiday decorations, art, glass creations, fiber/cloth goodies and more. Shoppers will enjoy live entertainment by performers from CATS and Dance Theatre Arlington on Saturday and painting demonstration on the basement stage by Karolyn Stirewalt on Sunday.
Details at 817artsalliance.blogspot.com/p/happy-holidays-gift-market.html or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Events at a glance
▪ Santa’s Sack Drive to benefit children living at SafeHaven is Dec. 11-19 at Lincoln Square Shopping Center (by Steinmart). The drive collects donations of gifts for kids and moms escaping domestic violence who are living at the SafeHaven shelter. It enables them to select special gifts for each other at the SafeHaven Christmas store at no cost, of course. Gifts are then wrapped and delivered by Santa on Christmas morning, bringing the joy of the holidays to victims who often leave everything to find safety. Direct inquiries to Krista Moffett at 817-510-7154.
▪ Arlington Community Band will perform a “Christmas Cheer” concert Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. at South Oaks Baptist Church, 5925 U.S. 287. The show is free and open to the public. To inquire, contact Velma Bogart, email@example.com or call 817-467-0158.
▪ Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is being performed at Theatre Arlington through Dec. 20. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m. Call the box office at 817-275-7661 or purchase tickets online at www.TheatreArlington.org.
▪ What Andy Warhol Never Told Me is being performed at CATS (located in the Arlington Museum of Art building) on Dec. 19 at 7 and 8:30 p.m. and Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. Purchase tickets at the door or online at www.CreativeArts.org.