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Firstmark CU Awards $5K in Grants to Fund Innovative Programs for Students
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 6:50 AM

Firstmark Credit Union announced its 2017 Educator Grant Award recipients. This year the credit union awarded $5,000 in grants to 10 educators across San Antonio. For the past eight years, Firstmark has awarded nearly $50,000 to educators who inspire student learning through creative and innovative programs.

The 2017 Firstmark Credit Union Educator Award winners are:

  • Amanda Carmelia – Jefferson High School (SAISD)
  • Anna Cutter – Rodriguez Elementary (SAISD)
  • Felicia Ruiz – Mission Academy (SAISD)
  • Susanna Hernandez – Carlos Coon Elementary (NISD)
  • Brenda Carrillo – Westwood Terrace Elementary (NISD)
  • Claire McCoy – E.M. Pease Middle School (NISD)
  • Bonnie Garza – Big Country Elementary (SWISD)
  • Barbara Leas – Las Lomas Elementary (NEISD)
  • Paul Thompson – Madison High School (NEISD)
  • Steven Davidson – MacArthur High School (NEISD)

The Educator Award program was designed with full-time, K-12-grade teachers in mind. It is intended to support educators who have innovative ideas for their classroom but who need assistance obtaining the necessary funds to implement them. During the application process, educators are asked to outline their project and explain how it would benefit their students and be supported by the school principal.

“Year over year, technology continues to influence the grant applications we have received at Firstmark,” said Nathanael Tarwasokono, president and chief executive officer. “However, the core goal of the educator continues to remain the same—hands-on, interactive experiences to encourage student learning.”

This year, project ideas include the purchase of multilingual text books, a variety of math manipulatives, a Smart Board, a trip to Sea World for special needs students, the building of solar ovens, and a robotics construction kit.

“Serving the education community for nearly 85 years, Firstmark is honored to support these outstanding educators and their projects,” Tarwasokono added. 

Amanda Carmelia

Amanda Carmelia plans to use her Firstmark Educator grant to purchase mobile dry-erase boards. These will replace her DIY boards constructed from laminate countertop surface material mounted to the wall. By using the mobile boards, she will be able to introduce her Spanish language content in a more dynamic and interactive way.

Anna Cutter

Anna Cutter plans to use her Firstmark Educator grant to update an outdoor space to create a mini-living lab—a place to grow, nurture, and study plants, insects, animals, and the environment. Creating the space will be a service project. The environment will provide interdisciplinary lessons in math, science, and social studies.

Barbara Leas

Barbara Leas plans to use her Firstmark Educator grant to purchase a second-grade reading intervention book program to help first and third graders close the gap and begin reading on grade level With the “Take-Home Book Package,” she will be able to further help her students acquire and improve their reading skills. The program includes 120 books.

To be eligible for an Educator Award, applicants must be a credit union member and an educator for grades K through 12 within Bexar County or one of the 12 surrounding counties.

About Firstmark Credit Union
Firstmark Credit Union has been helping people achieve financial success for more than 80 years. Founded in 1932 by ten teachers within the San Antonio Independent School District, Firstmark has grown their original $475 investment to over 100,000 members and over $1 billion in assets. Firstmark is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution focused on helping people to better their lives and small businesses. For more information, visit or call 210-342-8484.