Helena awards $60,000 in grants to teachers

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA – It was like Christmas at the Helena City Council meeting on April 16, when teachers from each of the city’s schools received thousands of dollars through the TAG Team Grant.

Mayor Brian Puckett created the grant as a way to use funds from the city’s 1-cent fund to give back directly to the teachers who are responsible for the education of hundreds of students in the area.

“This is a new grant that we started up for the teachers,” Puckett said. “We were excited that everyone that applied for this grant this month was approved. I am excited to be able to give this out to you all. Each and every day you put it on the line to teach our children. Thank you for all that you do each and every day to make our school system the best that it is.”

There were 26 teachers and administrators that all applied for something that they needed in their classrooms, and the city was able to grant all of their requests.

A lot of the teachers were asking for the money for technology, whether it was for software, subscriptions or laptops. Throughout the course of the pandemic teachers have had to become more reliant on these items and services to better instruct their students.

Other requests included things like keyboards for music class, adaptable seating for students with special needs, calculators, flexible seating and other things that will improve the experience of both teachers and students.

Helena Middle School Principal Andrew Gunn had requested the grant go toward redoing the floors of their gym, which was also granted.

Aside from the money from the TAG Team Grant, the city also made a sizeable donation of $25,000 to each of the four schools.

“We always want to give back to our schools the best that we can,” Puckett said. “We will be donating $25,000 to each school, which is a total of $100,000. We do not want to put any earmarks on it. These are funds for you to be able to do what you need to do in your schools.”

To tie the entire presentation together, Puckett also declared the first week of May, Teacher Appreciation Week, to celebrate the hard work that they put in every day.

“As a city we wanted to let them know with a proclamation how much you mean to us,” Pucket said.

City Council President Alice Lobell, who is a former educator, said that this meeting was incredibly special to her and was grateful that the city was able to do so much for its teachers.

“I love giving teachers money,” Lobell said. “I have been where you are, and I am so excited that we were able to do that. We have such a great community and I’m glad we could do this.