McFarland High School in Wisconsin recently congratulated Darien Riggins for receiving the Kohl Fellowship in 2015. Riggins has been a math teacher at McFarland for over 16 years.
The Kohl Teacher Fellowship was established in 1990 by Herb Kohl, a United States Senator from Wisconsin. The program acknowledges and awards excellence in teaching within the state of Wisconsin. Each year, 100 teachers in Wisconsin are awarded $3,000 grants and the schools they teach at also received a matching grant of $3,000. This is up from the $1,000 gifted in years past.
Teachers are nominated by peers or students in recognition of their innovativeness and ability to influence and motivate students to learn.
The foundation has awarded almost $9 million within the state of Wisconsin to students, teachers and schools as of August, 2014.
Riggins calls the recognition an honor and said she had never received any type of award like this before. Her colleague, Audry Damon-Wynn, a social studies teacher at McFarland and former Kohl Fellowship recipient, submitted the nomination in Riggins name this past October.
Riggins explained that she had had many in-depth conversations with Damon-Wynn about her ideas for change within the learning environment. She said that she has wanted to create a new curriculum that would allow students the choice of working on honors coursework or traditional coursework within the same class. She intends to put a portion of the grant money towards implementing her idea within three of the core math courses she teaches.
As part of the nomination process, Riggins was required to write six essays to submit to the school district. She admits it was somewhat stressful but she was determined to win the grant money for herself and her school.
Four additional teachers from McFarland High School were also nominated for the Kohl Teacher Fellowship.