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Foundation Awards Grants to New Teachers in Bluffton

Updated: Nov 24

The Foundation for Educational Excellence recently teamed up with The Peirce Group with Keller Williams of the Lowcountry which resulted in awards to 8 new teachers at Bluffton elementary schools. The $500 grants were given to first or second year teachers to enhance the learning experience for the students in their classrooms.


This endeavor began with The Peirce Group with Keller Williams of the Lowcountry, local realtors in Bluffton, wanting to give back to the community. The group held a back-to-school fundraiser that led to a plan with the Foundation to give a grant to a new elementary teacher in the Bluffton area. The Foundation announced the application process and applications were submitted by Induction teachers from Bluffton elementary schools. The Peirce Group award for $500 went to Sara Lemus, a first year fourth grade teacher from River Ridge Academy.


from left to right: Karen Beltz, Vice Chair Foundation For Educational Excellence;

Sara Lemus, fourth grade teacher at River Ridge Academy and grant recipient;

Lee Johnson, Foundation Board Member; and Brian Ryman, River Ridge Academy Principal.


Lemus explained in her application that she plans to spend the money on expanding her classroom offerings of interactive learning tools to assist in the differing learning styles of her 25 students. She feels that these materials will help the students make connections and think outside the box – improving the learning experience and keeping the students more engaged.


After reviewing all the applications, the Board of the Foundation felt compelled to provide a grant for more of the teachers who had applied. From expanding the classroom library to creating a calming corner and providing an interactive light table for Pre-K students – the Board thought these endeavors were well deserving and thus awarded eight applicants a $500 grant for their projects.


The other teachers receiving grants included: Jayme McMichael (River Ridge Academy), Stasha Grooms and Pamela Romero (River Ridge Academy), Taylor Behr (Pritchardville), Jessica Wetzel (Pritchardville), Michalle Ruble (M.C. Riley), Jennifer Matthews and Michelle Morrison (Red Cedar) and January Tramuta (Red Cedar).


“These teachers started their jobs in the midst of a pandemic and we wanted to assist in making the return to the classroom the best it can be for their students,” stated Lisa Carroll, Foundation Board Chair. “The Foundation is honored to help them accomplish that.”


The Foundation for Educational Excellence Board hopes to develop further criteria to establish an annual grant program for first and second year teachers throughout the Beaufort County School District.


from left to right: Tim Peirce, The Peirce Group with Keller Williams of the Lowcountry; Sara Lemus, fourth grade teacher at River Ridge Academy and grant recipient;

Lee Johnson, Foundation Board Member; and Karen Beltz, Vice Chair Foundation For Educational Excellence.