JPEF provides classroom grants in partnership with generous donors

Through our Educator Relief Funds, JPEF is supporting teachers, schools and students.


Photo: Ms. Lora Emel of Abess Park Elementary received classroom supplies for her young learners through JPEF's Educator Relief Funds.


During this unprecedented crisis, JPEF is committed to supporting educators in partnership with generous donors through our Educator Relief Funds. It’s not too late to contribute and help support teachers! Any gift is appreciated.  

Over the last month, JPEF has provided 80 classroom grants to teachers serving low-income students and students with special needs -- supplying materials, technology and other critical resources to support the transition to home learning.

The classroom grants are just one component of JPEF’s Educator Relief Funds, which are also providing crayons for elementary school students, coolers for food distribution, supplemental income for teachers who have lost work. So far, this work has impacted about 44,000 students in 120 schools.

“It’s an honor to support public school teachers, who are rising to the challenge of home learning,” said Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, JPEF President. “We are so grateful to our partners and donors who stepped forward during this crisis to make this possible.”

About 70 percent of the classroom grants are benefiting Title I schools, which serve a high proportion of students living in poverty, and the remaining projects are benefiting special needs classrooms. About 86 percent of the projects are benefiting our community’s youngest learners, at elementary schools.

The funding for the grants was made possible by the generosity of Jaguars owner Shad Khan, Truist and community supporters who gave to JPEF’s Educator Relief Funds during Teacher Appreciation Week. Community contributions were matched by JPEF board and staff, doubling the impact of our generous local donors.

Here are a few examples of the projects we funded through a selection process involving teachers, community leaders and donors. Scroll down for a full list of grant recipients and their schools. It’s not too late to contribute and help support teachers! Any gift is appreciated. 


Ms. Lora Emel, Abess Park Elementary

Ms. Emel teachers autistic children and others with special needs in a public Pre-K program at Abess Park Elementary. She helps students learn language skills, so the COVID-19 distance learning reality has been particularly difficult. "Every child deserves the opportunity to communicate, expand their language, and show the world how wonderful individual and unique they are," Ms. Emel says. The classroom supplies she received will help children express themselves, use their imaginations and practice turn-taking. She also received a microphone and speakers so her students can hear her while she sits on the floor and engages them in play. "Children shouldn't have to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and stress about how to get the resources to participate in their lessons. Thank you for helping to remove that pressure and helping me to send educational, therapeutic, and creative outlets into their homes."


Mrs. Luevano, Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary

Mrs. Luevano teachers fourth-grade math at Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary. She says her class has some of the hardest-working students she has taught. To help her teach essential math skills virtually, Mrs. Luevano asked for a portable white board and an iPhone tripod so she can project her lessons and her students can easily see what she's communicating. "These items will help me fully bring the math they are used to virtual learning," Mrs. Luevano said. "It will never be the same as the classroom but I am trying my best to give them the closest thing to a classroom experience."


Mrs. Haug, Henry F. Kite Elementary

Mrs. Haug, who was honored as a semi-finalist for 2020 Duval County Teacher of the Year, teaches low-income students in grades 3-5. She will receive some teaching essentials, such as a whiteboard and flip chart from her virtual lessons, as well as supplies to reach out to each of her students personally, to provide some encouragement during this difficult time.

“I would like to maintain positive relationships with students and families by sending each child their own pair of earbuds and a personalized letter to let them know that I am here for them and will support them in their learning no matter the circumstances,” Mrs. Haug says. “These items will greatly impact our day-to-day virtual learning. Thank you!”

Mrs. Leatherbarrow, River City Science Academy

Mrs. Leatherbarrow’s kindergarten class will receive education toys, including Play Doh and ABC stamps, as well as beginning readers, to make sure they have toys and books at home to stay engaged in learning through play.

“Kindergarten should be a time of fun, making messes, learning our letters, sounds, numbers and building the foundation to becoming fluent readers,” says Mrs. Leatherbarrow. “Most of our students do not have the books they need, on their level, to read at home.”

Ms. Fernandez, Waterleaf Elementary School

Ms. Fernandez teaches deaf and hard-of-hearing students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, so virtual learning has been especially challenging. Her class will receive hands-on phonics activities to help her facilitate one-on-one virtual lessons during home learning.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have all of these amazing new materials to help my students grasp phonological awareness concepts,” Ms. Fernandez said. “I am so excited to get started!” 

Recipients of classroom grants


Ms. Affatato, Spring Park Elementary School

Ms. Ako, Biscayne Elementary School

Ms. Allen, Greenland Pines Elementary School

Mr. Altman, Alimacani Elementary School

Ms. Ashley, Abess Park Elementary School

Ms. Avera, J. Allen Axson Elementary School

Ms. Babb, Jacksonville Heights Elementary School

Mrs. Baldwin, Timucuan Elementary School

Mr. Beaman, Mandarin Middle School

Ms. Belanger, Woodland Acres Elementary School

Mrs. Booz, Ruth N. Upson Elementary School

Mrs. Brown, John Stockton Elementary School

Ms. Cassano, Waterleaf Elementary School

Ms. Collins, Kings Trail Elementary School

Ms. Crews, Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary School

Ms. Cross, Beauclerc Elementary School

Ms. Delaney, Atlantic Coast High School

Ms. Dora, J. Allen Axson Elementary School

Ms. Mary Dunn, Windy Hill Elementary School

Mrs. Eddy, Whitehouse Elementary School

Ms. Emel, Abess Park Elementary School

Ms. Fernandez, Waterleaf Elementary School

Mrs. Fox, Loretto Elementary School 

Mrs. Franklin, San Mateo Elementary School 

Mrs. Thomas Gibson, Jacksonville Heights Elementary School

Ms. Hammonds, Wayman Academy of the Arts

Ms. Harris, Central Riverside Elementary School

Ms. Heffner, Brookview Elementary School

Mrs. Horter, Garden City Elementary School

Mrs. Haug, Henry F. Kite Elementary School

Mrs. Jeffries, Twin Lakes Academy Elementary School 

Ms. Jernigan, Waterleaf Elementary School

Ms. Jones, Robert E. Lee High School

Mrs. Jones, Biscayne Elementary School 

Mrs. Karasek, J. Allen Axson Elementary School

Dr. Keefe, Robert E. Lee High School

Mrs. Kirkland, Waterleaf Elementary School

Mrs. Lavelle, Oceanway Middle School

Mrs. Leatherbarrow, River City Science Academy

Mrs. Lechwar, John Stockton Elementary School

Mrs. Luevano, Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary School

Ms. Makhtin, River City Science Academy Innovation

Mrs. Miller, Greenland Pines Elementary School

Mrs. Miller, Westview Prek-8 School

Mrs. Milton, Waterleaf Elementary School

Mrs. Monroe, Biscayne Elementary School

Mrs. Morrison, Robert E. Lee High School

Mrs. Morter, Jacksonville Heights Elementary School

Mrs. Orr, Spring Park Elementary School

Ms. Pacholl, Kings Trail Elementary School

Mrs. Pope, Chimney Lakes Elementary School

Mrs. Ragan, Spring Park Elementary School

Ms. Riche, Enterprise Learning Academy

Ms. Robinson, Timucuan Elementary School

Ms. Rusich, Kings Trail Elementary School

Mrs. Scarbrough, Mandarin Oaks Elementary School

Ms. Malone Simpson, Beauclerc Elementary School

Mrs. Staves, Kings Trail Elementary

Ms. Stelmach, Edward H. White High School

Mrs. Stoker, Chimney Lakes Elementary School

Ms. Stokes, Beauclerc Elementary School 

Ms. Struble, Abess Park Elementary School

Ms. Talley, Brookview Elementary School

Ms. Tavolieri, Pinedale Elementary School 

Ms. Tessmer, Kings Trail Elementary School 

Mrs. Traci, Greenland Pines Elementary Schoo

Ms. Varona-Ellison, Chimney Lakes Elementary

Ms. Valenti, River City Science Academy Innovation

Mrs. Walls, Abess Park Elementary School

Ms. Whitsell, Merrill Road Elementary School

Mrs. Williams, John Love Early Learning Center

Mrs. Woodlief, Alimacani Elementary School

Mrs. Wiggins, Alden Road Exceptional Student Center

Mrs. Wiggins, Jefferson Davis Middle School

Mrs. Wright, Spring Park Elementary School




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.