Game Changer Delray do-gooders award local elementary school teachers in new initiative


By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
Theodore Hoskinson knows what it is like to go above and beyond in the classroom. That’s because he is a former fourth grade teacher.
Now, he is giving back to current elementary school teachers who rise above in their classrooms through his new nonprofit Roots and Wings Inc.
But, the idea to go into classrooms and recognize teachers isn’t his. It’s the brainchild of Chuck Halberg and Stephen Greene, who created what they dubbed the “Snickers Award” last year. It got the name because they would present a bag with two $50 gift cards and a Snickers bar to a deserving teacher at Pine Grove Elementary.
When he heard about the program, Hoskinson said he knew he wanted to expand it to all Delray elementary schools.
He said he and his wife knew they wanted to set up an endowment fund after they died that would go toward elementary education. After, his wife died in April, he said he got a jumpstart on that promise.
He renamed the awards to the “Above and Beyond” awards after he said Mars, which owns Snickers didn’t want to participate in the program. He also swapped out the gift cards for two “crisp $50 bills” and puts about 30 Hershey kisses inside the bag for the teacher to share with their classroom.
“There hasn’t been a teacher who wasn’t moved by the experience,” he said of the six elementary schools he has visited with awards.
The group has gifted a total of 20 awards to 18 teachers and two faculty members. One of the faculty members was recognized for his efforts in notifying the proper school officials that there was a dangerous situation near the school during his first week of work. One teacher had been an educator for 47 years. The stories are different and vary, but all show dedication to the students.
Plumosa School of the Arts was recently visited and three Above and Beyond Awards were given out to second grade math teacher Elisabeth Sargent, fifth grade reading and writing teacher Kristina DiBisceglie, and fourth grade reading and writer teacher Jocelyn DiPinto.
He said each school has handled the award process a little differently. At some schools, the principal will select a teacher who they think has been a game changer in the classroom. At other schools, the principals have created a system where teachers nominate other teachers that they
feel are deserving of an award and a review committee goes over each nomination before selecting a winner.
He said the teachers have been extremely appreciative of the gesture.
“It’s what I consider to be relatively small, but it shows someone else cares,” he said. “We want to be able to reward teachers for who they are and for what they do.”
The goal is to expand the program over time.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “I could see this moving north to Boynton and south to Boca. It’s a program that can be implemented anywhere.”
Hoskinson said he is also looking for sponsors for the program.
“I think the most important thing is giving,” he said. “You go out for dinner and spend over $100 and you don’t get as much of a reward as you do from this. It’s the kind of stuff you just live for.”
For more information or to sponsor an award, visit the Roots and Wings Facebook page.