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Rochelle Teacher Wins Educational Grant

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Students at Rochelle Middle School thought they were attending an assembly to hear a motivational speaker. But they, along with one teacher, got a big surprise.

Kirk Parker from Farmers Insurance asks,
“Can Vic Worthington join me at the center of the gym?” 

Mr. Worthington’s grant won the school a 100-thousand dollar Farmers Insurance Dream Big Teacher Challenge.

Tech Lab Teacher Vic Worthington says, “I was kind of suspicious that maybe when we had an assembly that something might happen. But once I got up this morning and the coffee hadn’t kicked in yet.  I’d kind of forgotten all about it until I heard the gentlemen start speaking in the middle of the gym and he said my name. And that’s when the lights kind of came back on.”

Mark Gillis from Farmers Insurance says, “It was all prompted by Mr. Worthington’s grant request to Farmer’s Insurance Group. He did a great job and I think we kept it pretty much a surprise for him.”

The grant will be used to tie classroom learning to technology and mentorship from local business and agricultural leaders.

Worthington says, “By taking our vocational department and taking things like our industrial arts classes, our art class, reading, health class and showing kids what people are actually doing to get jobs in the community and the world at large then they can get a better understanding of how they can start shaping their high school education and beyond.”

The grant will buy new tools and machines for shop class, new CPR dummies for health class and new tablets and graphic design materials for art class.
Worthington says none of this would have happened without the overwhelming community support.

“It’s very humbling to have all these people get behind you.”

More than 100 teachers applied for the grant.  Mr. Worthington was the only applicant from Illinois to be selected as a finalist.

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