Asixth-grade Mohave Middle School teacher, Beth Formanek, is one of 200 teachers who received a $5,000 grant as part of the Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program this year.
It’s a grant Formanek applied for every year since the program started in 2016.
“I was so, so surprised, and I’m very grateful,” Formanek said. “It was really unbelievable. You never think something like this is going to happen.”
Formanek teaches social studies and government studies for sixth- through eighth-grade students at Mohave Middle School located in southern Scottsdale.
With the grant money, she plans to purchase Chromebooks – as well as, she hopes, a Chromebook charging cart – for her classroom.
“The kids are just so technologically advanced, and we want to keep up with the times,” Formanek said. “You can really connect with the kids, and they can learn at their own pace.”
The students will use the Chromebooks almost daily to conduct research, submit assignments via Google classroom, and go on virtual field trips to places they are studying in class.
“It just makes the curriculum come to life,” Formanek explained. “They’ll be able to collaborate together. It makes learning interesting and fun by visiting different sites, like Google earth and historical sites when we can’t do a field trip for.”
Formanek, who currently has 150 students, said she plans to share the Chromebooks with her Mohave colleagues, as well.
“We do have [Chromebooks] for our science department and the math department already, but [the] social studies [department] doesn’t have them yet. So, I told my social studies department we can all share. It’ll actually be more than 150 students benefiting,” Formanek said.
Formanek found out she received the grant on Draft Day on Oct. 29, an event was live-streamed from Sneaky Big Studios, an audio and video production studio located in northern Scottsdale.
Formanek’s students, however, found out the day after she was interviewed by Channel 12.
“I said, ‘I have a current event for you to watch.’ They’re like, ‘Oh no...’ But when they found it was me, they just started cheering, and they thought I could buy a house with [the money],” Formanek said with a laugh. “They were so excited.”
The Fiesta Bowl organization and its Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program, powered by DriveTime, donated $1 million total to 200 Arizona teachers for the second straight year.
The $1 million in donations, which impacts more than 138,000 students, 177 schools, 52 school districts, and 40 cities, is believed to be the largest donation to Arizona teachers.
“[Teachers] can only give so much of our own money to the classroom and districts can only afford so much, so it’s just great they’re helping out,” Formanek said.
Over the four years of the program, including this season, Fiesta Bowl Wishes for Teachers granted $3.2 million to Arizona teachers, impacting more than 150,000 children across the state.
“It’s rewarding to see the Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers, powered by DriveTime program grow over the years and be the gold standard for teacher support,” said Patrick Barkley, chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors. “My mom was a teacher, and we all know teachers who inspire us with selfless work, shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.”
Each fall, Arizona K-12 public or charter school teachers are invited to fill out an online application detailing their school or classroom need.
After meeting the criteria, wishes are then selected by random drawing for teachers to receive a $5,000 grant.
“Teachers are so important in shaping today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders. They work tirelessly and selflessly every day, giving not only their time but often money from their own pockets,” said Mike Nealy, Fiesta Bowl executive director.
“Wishes for Teachers supports, honors and celebrates Arizona’s teachers for their commitment to our children and donating $1 million to Arizona’s teachers, provides resources they have only wished to have in the past.”
Formanek has been an educator in the Scottsdale Unified School District since 1990, teaching kindergarten through sixth grades at Navajo Elementary School, Pueblo Elementary School, and, now, Mohave Middle School.
She received the Charros Teacher of the Year Award in 2012 and has been published in “The Mailbox,” a magazine for teachers.
“I love where I’m at,” Formanek said. “The school, the district, and Mojave have been great. I’m glad I can share the wealth with everybody in this community.”
With 2020 marking her 30th year teaching, Formanek said the most rewarding part of her job is the kids.
“I just love being around them,” she said. “They make me laugh every day.”
Selected teachers will be recognized in the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade on Dec. 28 and on-field at the Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field on Dec. 27.