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TF South’s Jen Gross wins Excellence in Education grant

Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation awards $750 to enhance life skills classroom

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (September 25, 2019) – “My life skills classroom was recently remodeled, and a kitchen and laundry area were added,” explained Special Ed teacher Jen Gross in her application for an Excellence in Education grant. “My district lacks the funds to stock it with necessary items to make it functional. This grant would be used to purchase items necessary to utilize the classroom to its full potential.”

Gross continued, “This would provide my students with an authentic learning environment that supports the goal of increasing independence through the development of functional life skills.”

The application was submitted to the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation (IRTAF), who designed their Excellence in Education grants program knowing that educators often do not have additional revenue sources available for unique student projects or classroom materials. Today the program presented Gross with an IRTAF grant check for $750 to stock her life skills classroom.

From left: TF South Principal Jake Gourley and grant recipient Jen Gross accept a check from Jan Bryant and Tony Marturano of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation. (Photo provided)

Gross’ grant was part of a total of $36,500 awarded by IRTAF to Illinois public school educators (Pre-K through 12) statewide in 2019. IRTAF is affiliated with the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, a lobbying group for retired educators, with a current membership of over 38,500.

Applicants were required to meet the proper criteria and to submit their proposals by early June. The IRTAF Board of Directors selected the grant recipients, and awards are now in the process of being presented.

TF South High School is located at 18500 Burnham Avenue in Lansing, Illinois.

TF South High School
TF South High School is located at 18500 Burnham Avenue in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.