The Buffalo Bills and M&T Bank announced and honored the sixth annual M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers program finalists and winner at the Bills private Draft Party on Thursday, May 8.
The M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers finalists are: Rev. Frederick G. Bettiof Canisius High School, Bonnie Blatnerof Lancaster Middle School, Jeff Dinseof North Park Junior High School, Anthony Georgeof Lake Shore High School and Caitlin Kaneof Silver Creek High School.
The M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers program honors teachers for their outstanding service to their schools and communities. Honorees are chosen based on their amount of involvement in their school or community, degree of positive impact on their school or community and their demonstrated commitment to education. The program, which had previously been set in the fall, moved to the springtime slot before students and teachers head home for the summer.
The grand prize was awarded to Jeff Dinse, a 7th grade social studies teacher at North Park Junior High School in Lockport, NY. Dinse uses creativity and over 16 years of experience North Park to engage students in non-traditional learning, integrating videos and games into his lessons both during and outside of school hours. His "All Kinds of Kinds" viral video inspired over 70,000 YouTube hits, which he then translated to a website with a mission to share the positive message with others. In the months following the release of the anti-bullying video, student discipline referrals decreased by 60 percent, out-of-school suspensions were down 78 percent, staff attendance was up 24 percent and student scores in both reading and math grew by over 50 percent school-wide. Described as having a "fire in his belly" to provide social development and justice for his students, Dinse goes above and beyond to create a better school and community. The Bills and M&T Bank are proud to award Dinse with a $2,000 grant to North Park Junior High School, a Bills VIP behind-the-scenes experience, and an in-class visit from a Bills player or alumni.
Each of the four remaining finalists received $100 in grant funds to use towards furthering their impact on their schools and communities.
"We are always impressed with the examples of local teachers who are so dedicated to helping their students succeed. Schools play such an important role in all the local neighborhoods served by our branches and M&T Bank enjoys using our partnership with the Buffalo Bills to provide a unique way for us to recognize these outstanding teachers," said Tim McMorrow, Group Vice President for Retail Banking in Western New York
"The M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers program continues to be one of the most rewarding programs for the Buffalo Bills" said Bruce Popko, Bills Chief Revenue Officer. "Being able to honor well-deserving teachers like Jeff Dinse coincides with the focus that both M&T Bank and the Bills have in recognizing outstanding educators in our area. Congratulations to Jeff on his exemplary work in the classroom and community."