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IPA CEO Claudia Cummings Joins Ball Brothers Foundation Judging Panel for Teacher Nominations in Delaware County

Friday, January 22, 2021
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Ball Brothers Foundation will again honor Delaware County teachers in 2021 through the Foundation’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Nominations from school districts are due on Monday, February 1. This will be the ninth year that the award will recognize teachers who bring innovation, enthusiasm, and 21st century skills to their classrooms. The announcement of the call for nominations comes in the midst of what has been a challenging year for teachers who have done a remarkable job adapting to the demands of teaching in the midst of a global pandemic.

Teachers eligible to be nominated include those with at least three years of experience who are currently teaching in a K-12 classroom in any of Delaware County’s public school systems. Each district develops its own selection process and can submit up to three nominations with no more than one nomination each from the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

“Over the course of the past year, we have all become increasingly aware of the tremendous lengths to which teachers in our community go to help students learn. Teachers have demonstrated ingenuity throughout the transition to on-line and hybrid learning models. They have persevered through less-than-ideal circumstances to ensure that children in Delaware County continue to receive excellent education,” shared Jud Fisher, president and chief operating officer of Ball Brothers Foundation. “This year, we look forward to once again recognizing teachers for their outstanding efforts.”

Ball Brothers Foundation is also pleased to announce the addition of new judges to the panel of experts which reviews submitted nominations. Claudia Cummings, president & chief executive officer of Indiana Philanthropy Alliance will join the judging panel in 2021. Before joining IPA, Cummings served as vice president of strategic development at Conexus Indiana where she oversaw collaborations on workforce development and education with a particular focus on advanced manufacturing and logistics. “Claudia brings a critical perspective to our judging panel,” shared Fisher. “She has a deep understanding of the intersection between K-12 education and employers’ ever-evolving needs. Her understanding of these issues on a statewide level is a boon to our committee.”

Joining the panel for a second year is life-long Muncie resident Wilisha Scaife who is well-known for her expertise in family engagement and community leadership. Scaife has played a key role in building a nationally recognized after-school program at Longfellow Elementary in conjunction with Ball State University and has extensive experience in early childhood education. She is actively involved in her church and in the Whitely community. “We are pleased that Wilisha will continue to serve on our Excellence in Teaching Award judging panel moving forward. Wilisha innately understands what it takes for teachers to connect deeply with their students, families, and the larger community. Her passion and knowledge are key in helping us to select excellent winners and finalists,” commented Fisher. Scaife first joined the judging panel in 2020.

Scaife and Cummings join a panel of longtime judges including: Dr. Patricia Clark, professor of early childhood education at Ball State University; Gary Pavlechko, director of edTPA in the Office of Teacher Education Services and Clinical Practice at Ball State University; Kate Love-Jacobson, coordinator with the City of Fort Wayne and Allen County as well as a consultant with High Performance Government Network; Dale Basham, veteran educator, school administrator; and Dr. Neil Schmottlach, veteran Ball State University teacher educator and distinguished professor who later served as a Ball Brothers Foundation program officer, retiring in 2014.

The winning teacher and award finalists will be announced in May. The top honor includes a $17,500 grant to promote innovation in the winning teacher’s district ($5,000), school ($5,000), and classroom ($5,000); the award also includes $2,500 to be used for a professional development opportunity of the winning teacher’s choice. Two finalists for the award also each receive a $1,000 grant to be used in their classrooms as well as $500 each for professional development.

A list of previous winners of the award can be found at ballfdn.org/excellence-in-teaching-award. Nominations can be submitted electronically by school districts via Ball Brothers Foundation’s website. Details about other Ball Brothers Foundation funding opportunities are also available on the foundation’s website at www.ballfdn.org.

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