Marquette teacher named finalist in national contest

MARQUETTE — “I feel amazing, very excited,” said Amanda Erspamer-Berry, a social studies and special education teacher at Marquette Alternative High School. “We just got a lot of good news and very unexpected news.”

After receiving a $2,500 grant Friday morning to help fund a skill building visit to the Clear Lake Camp for Marquette Alternative High School’s female students, Amanda Erspamer-Berry got quite the surprise. Officials from Farmers Insurance let her know that she was a finalist in the Thank a Million Teachers Dream Big Challenge, a competition for five $100,000 grants.

“Amanda is one of those teachers who dreamed big indeed, and she was selected. She is one of the fifteen finalists,” Farmers Insurance national nanager for education programs Randy Rice said. “She is the only teacher from the entire state of Michigan who was selected for this competition.”

“Having a teacher recognized for the Dream Big grant is a dream come true for our program,” said Marquette Alternative High School principal Andrew Crunkleton. “It allows our students to really take part and be part of something bigger than themselves, and to be recognized on a huge stage for the hard work they put into school.”

Erspamer-Berry and colleague Nora Torreano assembled a proposal for a fitness center to apply for the grant. The goal of the proposed program is to inspire students throughout the district to lead healthier lives.

“I think that’s the most important thing, teaching students how to live positive lifestyles so when they leave us, when they graduate, they already have some idea of what our community has for resources,” Erspamer-Berry added.

“This innovative program will provide year-round activity for the students and also for the entire community in the district,” Rice added. “So she thought beyond her classroom, beyond her school. This is something that will affect all of the Marquette school district.”

“Something like this would be a great opportunity for everybody, and we’ll need the community’s help to reach that for sure,” said Crunkleton.

The five Dream Big winners will be chosen by a public online vote. Supporters will be able to choose their favorite proposal at starting October 1st.