Helena awards TAG grants at city council meeting

Published 5:31 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – Mayor Brian Puckett and the Helena City Council centered a spotlight on the city’s educators during a regularly scheduled city council meeting on the evening of Monday, Nov. 13.

For the second time this year, the city supported its educators by publicly presenting 41 teachers with Teacher Assistance Grants (TAG) that totaled more than $64,500.

Prior to the main focus of the night’s meeting, the City Council also issued a proclamation that named Saturday, Nov. 25 as Small Business Saturday.

“This is a proclamation we like to do every year,” Puckett said. “It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We really have so many great small businesses here in town and we encourage everyone to go shopping local and to shop small on Saturday, Nov. 25.”

Following the proclamation, Puckett led the grant awards ceremony and announced that for this iteration of the TAG grants, 63 teachers across the five schools in the Helena area applied for grant money in requests that totaled $228,231.56. Of those teachers, Puckett proudly announced that 41 of them had been awarded their requested funds at a total of $64,772.67.

“First and foremost, I want to thank the committee who helps with the selection,” Puckett said. “It’s never fun to have to turn anyone away for these grants, but it’s a good problem to have because we have so many great ideas coming in from teachers. It also couldn’t be done without the funding that gets approved in the budget by the council.”

The fall 2023 iteration of the awards is the sixth time that Helena has awarded its teachers money through the TAG grants, and it has served as a special area of focus for Puckett, who started the grants in the first quarter after his taking office.

“We’ve had 217 teachers apply in the six times we’ve offered these grants,” Puckett said. “Out of that, 174 teachers have been awarded (so far). That totals right under half a million dollars that has gone directly into the teacher’s classrooms. It’s always a wonderful thing.”

The grants awarded during the ceremony were primarily for physical items that will be used in classrooms, such as books, boards, technologies and lab equipment. However, other teachers were also awarded funds to attend additional trainings and conferences that will serve to further educate and broaden their teaching capabilities.

“Not only are we providing ‘stuff’ in people’s classrooms,” Puckett said. “We are also getting people to different kinds of conferences for professional development to be able to make sure that our teachers are the best they can be now and down the road.”

In total, 10 teachers from Helena Elementary School, seven from Helena Intermediate, seven from Helena Middle, 11 from Helena High and six from the Hillsboro School were awarded grants.

The Following TAG grants were awarded to teachers:

Helena Elementary School: $11,840.27 total

  • Leah Jordan with $1,924.03 for five round and one rectangular tables; two sets of drawer storage.
  • Brandi Abernathy with $1,417.51 for fees to attend the Blue Ribbon School Conference.
  • Allie Clement with $1,417.51 for fees to attend the Blue Ribbon School Conference.
  • Julie Stephens with $1,417.51 for fees to attend the Blue Ribbon School Conference.
  • Jan Hughey with $1,189.46 for fees to attend the Blue Ribbon School Conference.
  • Allison Festavan with $1,189.46 for fees to attend the Blue Ribbon School Conference.
  • Amy Rooker with $871.51 for fees to attend the Blue Ribbon School Conference.
  • Jennifer Newhouse with $1,226.31 for three standing desks and three tilt stools.
  • Lillian Brewer with $955.16 for 24 starter set of SPIRE decodable readers.
  • Amy Anderson with of $231.81 for five various STEM kits.

Helena Intermediate School: $7,151.09 total

  • Jill Davis with $1,730.57 for a Caris Snider author visit and 42 books.
  • Sierra Cutts with $1,495.00 for five iPad sets.
  • Ashleigh Marshall with $1,010.52 for three iPad sets.
  • Alicia Smith with $920.00 for 240 Gizmo subscriptions.
  • Sarah Hopper with $860.00 for Creality 3D printer and filament, Keva planks building blocks set with storage and Legos with storage.
  • Amanda Miller with $720.00 for three rugs, 15 poof chairs with additional fill and an activity table.
  • Kathryn Harrison with $415.00 for admission fee for the SHAA conference.

Helena Middle School: $10,449.20 total

  • Lori Walley with $2,000.00 for sensory items for the classroom including handheld tools.
  • Olivia Snyder with $2,000.00 for 47 life skills lab items.
  • Lena Kilgore with $2,000.00 for 26 items including furniture and supplies for the Huskey Pride winners.
  • Cheryl Godsey with $1,500.00 for sets of the High Noon book series.
  • Michelle Evans with $1,500.00 for assistant technology, educational supplies, sensory tools, books, classroom. organization and storage and professional development.
  • JaNae Bozeman, Crystal Chiles-Benton and Christine Hoffman with $1,198.68 for 12 magnetic mobile white boards.
  • Jessica Garcia with $250.52 for 28 books for their classroom.


Helena High School: $24,187.84 total

  • Mark Hendren with $6,500.00 for cameras, microphones and tripods for digital media.
  • Brandon McCabe with $4,880.00 for two tennis ball machines, four tennis carts, six cases of balls, 30 flags for football, 10 footballs, two sets of cones and yard markers.
  • Lindsey Watson with $3,900.00 for 6×12 enclosed utility trailer for color guard.
  • Jordan Smith with $1,703.00 for classroom furniture and sensory items.
  • Spring McKinney with $1,000.00 for funds for the Peer Helpers program.
  • Michelle Branson with $1,398.00 for supplies for cake decorating.
  • Sommer Simpson with $1,248.00 for gardening education supplies.
  • Tracy Williams with $1,053.00 for an iPad bundle.
  • Erika Burns with$1,000.00 for city collaborative project supplies.
  • Ryan Dudchock with $894.00 for Vitruve linear encoder.
  • Jonathan Mincey with $611.84 for iPad and case.

The Hillsboro School: $11,144.27 total

  • Shamima Hassan with $3,087.98 for outdoor instructional equipment.
  • Hannah Alexander with $2,559.12 for language arts and math curriculum tools.
  • Lydia Edwards with $2,154.17 for language arts and reading materials.
  • Britney Doe with $1,743.00 for gardening education equipment.
  • Patrick Schrader with $1,000.00 for materials to build a chicken coop.
  • Taylor Steele with $600.00 for a garden weather station.


In other news the City Council also approved the following:

  • An amendment to the General Fund Budget for the Farmers Market in the amount of $5,615
  • A resolution approving an ALDOT agreement for the installation, operation and maintenance of a traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 261 and Sarah Lane.
  • Annexation ordinances for 4510, 4518, 4500 and 4515 Eaglewood Drive