NEW LONDON, Wis (WBAY) The Starr Academy at Rawhide Boys Ranch in New London is on the verge of receiving a $100,000 grant, but it needs your votes.
Rawhide woodshop teacher Jerry Trzebiatowski, at left (WBAY photo)
The grant could help inspire at-risk young men to fulfill their dreams.
"One thing I really enjoy doing with the boys is new projects," says woodshop teacher Jerry Trzebiatowski.
Trzebiatowski considers the Starr Academy at Rawhide his calling.
"I was one of those students back in the day, so I know where they're coming from. I know I can work with them and I know I can help them," says Trzebiatowski.
But for years, he has wished he could expose his students to the trades beyond woodworking.
Recently, a Rawhide grant writer came across a contest sponsored by Farmers Insurance called "Thank America's Teachers," and reached out to Trzebiatowski.
"Got a hold of me and said, 'Jerry, what do you think we could spend $100,000 on?' And I didn't even have to think about it, I said we need to expand, we need to offer metal shop, we need to offer small engines shop, we need to have a work bay where we can work on projects and the boys can practice the trades," says Trzebiatowski.
Out of thousands of schools that applied, Trzebiatowski is one of 15 teacher finalists for the $100,000 education grant.
Public voting between now and November 3 will determine the five winning recipients.
"The grant, big picture, is to do an expansion. That's the heading, but really the depth of it is to give these kids an opportunity to see that they have a bigger future ahead of them. A lot of these kids, the path they've been on has been difficult and tough, and we're kind of their last shot," says Heather Stern, Rawhide Director of Development.
"I'm honored to be here and be part of it, and I think this grant opportunity is supposed to happen, but it can't without everybody's help," says Trzebiatowski.