EDISON — Science teacher Laura Holborow at John P. Stevens High School dreamed big for her students and the community.
And for her big dream, Farmer’s Insurance Thank America’s Teachers awarded Holborow with the Dream Big Teacher Challenge grant of $100,000.
Farmers Insurance Agent Edward van Eckert, of Metuchen, surprised Holborow with the grant on Nov. 16.
Holborow is one of five winners across the country to receive $100,000 from the Dream Big Teacher Challenge as part of the Thank America’s Teachers program.
In her Dream Big video, Holborow said her dream big proposal is lighting a way to better food.
“My dream big proposal will allow us to purchase solar panels that we can run in the greenhouse and farm stand to serve the community year round providing [the public] with low cost organic foods,” she said.
Holborow said her students love working in the greenhouse.
“Watching things grow [gives my students] a great sense of self accomplishment,” she said. “We have a variety of community that comes and purchases [fruits and vegetables] from our farm stand from people who are on food stamps to parents of students in the community.”
Holborow said they try to sell the fruits and vegetables at the farm stand twice a week.
“Any produce that we don’t sell at the end of the day, we donate to food banks and shelters,” she said. “These solar panels will allow [us to sell the fruits and vegetables] year round.”
Holborow said winning the grant impacts the community directly enabling the students to give back to the community.
Along with the solar panels, Holborow will purchase code for an app that monitors and supports the school’s greenhouse and community farm stand.
The students will each design their own solar-powered program after connecting with coders, designers and engineers within the community to discuss best practices before presenting their ideas to a board of teachers.
Holborow’s goal is to make the program as self-sustaining as possible by reducing the school’s electric bill and integrating a scientific approach to its high school curriculum.
Voters poured in nationwide in October for the top 15 finalists and Holborow’s proposal was one of the five to receive the most votes.
Throughout the year, Thank America’s Teachers and Farmers Insurance give away more than $1 million in educational grants to teachers around the nation, supporting proposals and projects that make a difference.
For more information about Thank America’s Teachers, visit www.ThankAmericasTeachers.com.