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2:04 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

Lamb Chevrolet donation increases Teacher of the Year awards

PRESCOTT - The Yavapai County Teacher of the Year for 2015-16 will receive a larger cash award from Yavapai County Education Foundation.

Ed Walsh, general manager at Lamb Chevrolet and a recently appointed foundation board member, announced the car dealership donated $20,000 to the foundation.

"He has a real heart for teachers, and understands teachers go the extra mile and don't always have the resources to do their jobs," Teacher of the Year Committee Chairwoman Cindy Daniels said of the donation. "The main stipulation was that money goes to (Teacher of the Year) winners."

Previously, Teacher of the Year category finalists received $250, category winners $500 and the overall winner $1,500.

This year, category finalists will receive $500, category winners $1,500 and the overall Teacher of the Year will receive $5,000.

There will be similar increases to First-Year Teacher of the Year, considered a separate category. Its award for finalists will be $500 and the winner will receive $2,500.

"For far too long, Arizona's teachers have been underpaid and underappreciated," Walsh said. "We've decided to focus our dollars in the one thing that can make a difference in the lives of children: great teachers."

Daniels, who also is the foundation's vice president, said the foundation does not limit how a teacher uses cash awards, and all teachers at district, private or charter schools in Yavapai County are eligible.

"The foundation exists to support teachers," she said.

The foundation recently opened the 2015-16 nominating process, with a Jan. 11, 2016, deadline.

The volunteer reader committee will then select 18 finalists, with the winner announced at the awards ceremony and banquet April 22 at Prescott Resort.

Categories include kindergarten through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade, K-8 cross-grade specialist, high school, and 9-12 cross-grade specialist. Cross-grade specialists are teachers of multiple grades in subjects outside the core subjects such as art, music, physical education, math and reading interventions, foreign language, and special education. The sixth category is for first-year teachers.

Applications and nomination information are available online at http://form.jotformpro.com/form/52747423872967.

For more information, contact Beth Cross at beth.cross@yavapai.us.

Follow reporter Les Bowen on Twitter @NewsyLesBowen. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 1110, or 928-830-9305.