The Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank announced and honored the inaugural Touchdown for Teachers program finalists and grand prize winner at the Ravens Draft Party event, held at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday, May 8.
The 2014 Touchdown for Teachers finalists are:
Jasmine Blanks – Magnolia Middle School
Cassandra Carter – Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School
Kim Coleman – Patterson Park Public Charter School
Charles Emerson – Northeast Middle School
Jeniqua Moran – Westport Academy
The program honors and recognizes local teachers for their leadership, dedication and commitment to education and for their outstanding service to their school, students and community.
The five finalists were honored during the Ravens Draft Party event during an on-field presentation at M&T Bank Stadium and received 10 tickets to the event, a personalized Ravens jersey and an award certificate. The grand prize winner was presented with a check for $1,000 in grant funds and will receive a classroom visit by a Ravens’ coach or player, accompanied by Ravens mascot Poe.
The grand prize was awarded to Jasmine Blanks, who teaches music at Magnolia Middle School in Joppa, Md. Blanks’ main focus is to ensure that all students gain an awareness and appreciation for the arts. She teaches classes in chorus, music history, piano and guitar and her lesson plans are often linked to other subject areas such as math and science. Blanks and her students can be seen attending concerts, sitting in related musical sessions at the local library or viewing relevant foreign films during after school hours. She is a teacher in the after-school reading and mathematics intervention program and often volunteers to chaperone school dances, field trips and other school related activities. Ms. Blanks instituted activities for the school in honor of Black History Month, including a college and university fair, "Rock the Rights" dance, book and movie club, performance assembly, essay and poetry contest and an art appreciation contest, which all take place during the month of February.
In addition to her achievements in the classroom, Ms. Blanks’ work in the community is extenxive. She is an advocate for at risk youth and has become a certified Resource Parent for Harford County Foster Care. Blanks helps high school students gather resources for scholarship opportunities, teaches violin and viola lessons to elementary students of lower income families and is active in her church, where she educates youth about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. During the summer months, Blanks spends time in Liberia, West Africa, running an arts based youth empowerment program that serves over 300 children. Magnolia Middle School has since developed a partnership with this program and Ms. Blanks is known to integrate information that she has learned from her work in the community and travels abroad directly into her classrooms.
“It’s important to recognize the outstanding teachers in our community and the tremendous impact they have on students throughout the school year,” said Augie Chiasera, President of M&T Bank’s Greater Baltimore and Chesapeake regions. “Quality education is a cornerstone of thriving neighborhoods, and M&T is committed to strengthening the communities we serve.”