Two teachers from the Atlantic Union Conference territory were recognized this year for their teaching contributions and received the Hi-5 4 Teachers award. Maria Thomas, a teacher at Whispering Pines school in Old Westbury, New York, and Marjaine Drayson, of the Warren school in West Brookfield, Massachusetts, received $500 each.
Hi-5 4 Teachers is a mission project pioneered by members of the WholeLife church in Orlando, Florida, seeking to encourage teachers tangibly. One hundred donors submit $5.00 each month to go toward a $500 gift for a teacher who has been nominated by supervisors, principals, or colleagues. One-half of the monetary gift is to be used to benefit one or more students, and the other half is for the teacher to use personally without restrictions. To date, the ministry has dispensed $4,500 in gifts.
In 2020, James Reid, who serves as both a chaplain and teacher at Pine Tree Academy in Freeport, Maine, and Heidi Kneller, a teacher at the Caledonia school in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, were the second and third recipients of the award, respectively. In a June 2021 newsletter announcing the most recent winners, Thomas commented on how the gift was an answer to prayer and chose to use the total amount to purchase a camera that will “enhance the learning experience of the virtual classes” that she teaches each Friday. Drayson stated that the award was “what I needed to keep me going this year.” She announced that she would spend her award money to purchase “technology and other classroom supplies to help my students continue to be successful.”