Mansfield News-Mirror

What will this Texas school do with $100,000?

Your vote matters.

That’s one lesson students, families and educators at Tarver-Rendon Elementary School learned firsthand.

In October, the word was out that people needed to help support the campus, a school that sits in a rural stretch between Mansfield and Burleson, because teacher Shaye Atwood was one of 15 finalists nationwide vying for a $100,000 grant from Farmers Insurance.

Well, Atwood won, and on Wednesday, the students and campus staff were surprised with the news. The check was revealed when Atwood opened a box in front of students.

Asked how she felt in a video shared by the Mansfield school district, Atwood responded: “Completely elated and shocked and so excited for this campus and the great things that we are going to use this money towards.”

Atwood’s grant application was part of the Farmers Insurance’s Dream Big Teacher Challenge, which asks teachers how they would invest $100,000 to their schools. At Tarver-Rendon, it will boost agricultural learning.

The campus has an agriculture leadership designation, which incorporates lessons about animals and plants into lessons every week, Atwood told the Star-Telegram in October.

“We are trying to teach them how agriculture affects their everyday lives,” Atwood said, explaining that the campus is located near the district’s agricultural farm facility. At school, students eat food grown on campus and organize farmers markets.

Atwood said the grant would help pay for an outdoor learning center — a covered space that allows students to learn outdoors even when it drizzles. The schools would also invest in larger raised beds for the garden.

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Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.