Local teacher receives Leo Seal grant

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 16, 2016

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Gifted teacher Alicia Verweij instructs her students as they prepare for next weekend’s Perch competition.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Gifted teacher Alicia Verweij instructs her students as they prepare for next weekend’s Perch competition.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Wednesday, Alicia Verweij, a teacher at Roseland Park Elementary, received a Leo Seal Innovative Teacher Grant during a ceremony in Gulfport.
According to a release from Hancock Bank, the grant is funded by Hancock Bank and recognizes outstanding educators while helping pay for projects that complement classroom instruction, support state curriculum and bring school subjects to life. This is the 20th year the bank and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation have honored teachers.
The grant program was established in 1994 to honor the leadership and achievements of Leo W. Seal, Hancock Bank president from 1932 until his death in 1963. His son, the late Leo W. Seal Jr., served as Hancock Bank’s chief executive for 45 years, the release states.
Each winner earned up to $2,000 in grant funds, the release states.
Roseland Park Elementary Principal Vicki Vaughn said Verweij is an exceptional teacher with exceptional abilities which she shares with her students.
“She is well deserving of the Leo Seals award and we couldn’t be prouder,” Vaughn said. “One of the reasons she got this award is due to her work with gifted projects she has spearheaded.”
Verweij was one of 12 honored. She is the gifted teacher for grades 2 to 6 at Roseland Park Elementary.
The title of Verweij’s proposal is Creative Problem Solving in 3D. According to her project proposal, students will use robots and 3D printers to solve real-world problems. Students will also increase their imagination and confidence levels by learning computer programming and 3D printing skills.
Verweij said she wasn’t sure she would win the award, but wanted to apply for the grant for her students.
“Robotics and 3D are expensive and Mrs. (Vicki) Vaughn brought the award to my attention,” she said.
Students in Verweij’s classes will design and build a space vehicle with a 3D printer. This activity targets second through sixth graders.
Students will learn computer coding and programming.
“We will take it to the next level with 3D printing,” she added. “They will study space exploration options and the types of vehicles already available and create something that doesn’t exist through engineering, design and trial and error. This is what their job would be like if they worked for NASA. It brings the imaginary to life and gets them thinking, ‘this is what I could do for a living.’’’
Friday, students prepared for next week’s SeaPerch challenge, a robotics competition. Students will be judged on their presentation, design board, a skit and video editing, she said.
Judges will also examine the students’ underwater vehicle, built from PVC. They also constructed a remote control and will need to complete several underwater tasks using the robot.
“Devoted teachers across our state work tirelessly every day to build the academic foundations and help reinforce the character our children need to be productive, successful citizens,” Hancock Bank Mississippi Regional President Keith Williams said in the release. “We at Hancock Bank are honored and proud to recognize these extraordinary educators for their dedication and resourcefulness in helping students not only learn but also experience what they learn. To these and other committed teachers everywhere, we say from our hearts, thank you.”

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