Each year, the 16 Academic Chairs for Teaching Excellence in the Fort Worth ISD receive their $5,000 award from generous sponsors, and each teacher’s school receives a banner to display in their honor.
This year, teachers also received a special keepsake that is unlike anything they have received before, a hand-crafted wooden commemorative check that can be displayed at home or in the classroom, the school district said in a news release.
These larger-than-life mementos did not come from a typical commercial vendor. Dayton Tanner, construction technology and construction management teacher at Trimble Tech High School, made the customized keepsake checks to help honor his 16 colleagues.
Tanner designs the checks and then enlists help from his upper-level students. Students paint and paint the wood and it to be cut to size.
“You want to paint the wood first so that when you engrave it, you get that really nice contrast coming through the text,” Tanner said. Students also help set up the engraving machine that creates the text on the wood.
Making the checks took about 15 hours to make all the checks. He uses time embedded in his classes so students can work with him on special projects.
“Upper-level students always need hands-on projects to practice and apply their construction skills. Special projects allow students to apply their knowledge and practice using the construction technology,” he said.
Tanner has been at Trimble Tech for three years and he and his students have designed and created faculty gifts for teacher appreciation week. They have created wooden name plates for all staff members and have designed decorative “double T” plaques to hang in classrooms.
The idea for this year’s commemorative checks came from his principal, E. Omar Ramos. He asked Tanner to create the special checks for his two Teaching Chair winners last year, and he thought it would be the perfect pairing with the actual award checks this year.
“Dayton is a talented teacher who connects with his students. I knew this would be a great way to showcase his and his students’ work across the District,” Ramos said. “The banners stay at the school, but the teachers can take these checks with them and display them wherever they like, and Dayton’s work and the work of his students is seen by many more people.”