Video: Farmers Dream ‘Big Challenge Finalist’ – Amanda Erspamer-Berry

Farmers Insurance’s ‘Dream Big Challenge’ is giving away five $100,000 grants to teachers across the country. They have narrowed it down to 15 finalists, and you can vote for Amanda Erspamer-Berry of Marquette now through November. Image and video courtesy of Farmers Insurance

MARQUETTE — “I feel amazing, very excited,” said Amanda Erspamer-Berry, a social studies and special education teacher at Marquette Alternative High School.

Farmers Insurance’s ‘Dream Big Challenge’ is giving away five $100,000 grants to teachers across the country. They have narrowed it down to 15 finalists, and you can vote for Amanda Erspamer of Marquette now through November at

Learn more about Amanda and the big dreams she has for our community:

The best way to care for your total health is to nurture a healthy mind and body. If Erspamer-Berry wins $100,00 she wants to help her students do just that. Her plan at the Alternative High School incorporates opportunities for students to build healthier lifestyles. She would build an innovative fitness center within the school’s walls, purchase items such as mountain bikes, new shoes, and healthy vending machines. To encourage healthy minds, the grant would allow for an art class to be offered daily, and the national program Challenge Day to be brought to MAHS. Also an important aspect of the grant will be the community collaboration with the Marquette Food Co-op providing nutrition classes and the Red Cross CPR/First Aid training. The main goal of the grant is to give students and the surrounding community a space to promote healthy lifestyle habits.

After receiving a $2,500 grant last month 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.