DAYTON — As part of her Make it a HABITat project, Dayton Elementary School kindergarten teacher Tammy Borremans is researching different habitats, so far including the desert, rain forest and fresh water, with her students.
“The kids are going to decide which habitat we choose,” she said. “Then we’ll go ahead and add a critter. Eventually, I’d like to have a habitat for each region.”
As part of the project, she plans to add tablets, interactive Smart Boards, computers and books to aid in student research. To help bring her vision to reality, Voya Financial presented Borremans with a $2,000 grant Thursday through its Unsung Heroes awards competition.
“People have no understanding how important you are,” Manuel Martinez, a Voya Financial advisor told Dayton Elementary School teachers during the award ceremony. “You are the most important people in the country.”
Borremans was one of 100 selected from a group of more than 1,000 applicants to receive the $2,000 grant. She’s now in the running for an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000.
“I really, honestly, wasn’t expecting it,” she said. “But the $2,000 is really going to go a long way. I’ve got some technology in mind I’ve already plugged money away for.”
Borremans started her career two years ago upon raising her sons, who are now 22 and 25.
“I love it,” she said. “This is my dream job. I’ve wanted to do this my whole life.”
She said she first felt intimidated about seeking the award because she was, “just a kindergarten teacher.”
“But then I realized I’m not ‘just’ and kindergarten teacher,” she said. “I’m the first teacher these kids are ever going to have. They can do so much more than people think they can do.”
Although she’s already had to turn down some of their suggestions for habitat pet — including an anaconda and a jaguar — she said the students are working hard on the project.
“The kids are really getting into it,” she said. “They’re getting super excited and coming up with some really great ideas.”