Donna Gradel Fund for Teachers Fellowship

Donna Gradel Fund for Teachers Fellowship

The Donna Gradel Fund for Teachers Fellowship was established in 2019 and recognizes an individual teacher or team of Fellows whose innovative, self-designed professional development experience will help students become problem solvers and world changers. The award winner is selected each year from among the Oklahoma Fund for Teachers Fellowship recipients.

The award is named in honor of two-time Fund for Teachers Fellow Donna Gradel, a Broken Arrow environmental science teacher, whose own fellowships paved the way for student projects providing clean water and high-protein foods for Kenyan children suffering from protein deficiency. Gradel’s problem-solving and service-learning approach to teaching led her to be recognized as a 2014 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence winner, Oklahoma’s 2018 Teacher of the Year and a top-four finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

Since 2012, Gradel has engaged students in problem-solving design projects and taken student groups to Kenya to implement their finished products, including a full-scale aquaponics system that produces fish and plants, a fish-food production system, and a chicken coop and chicken-food harvesting facility. Through the work of her students and the relationships built during the learning experiences, the lives of many Kenyans and high school students are forever changed.

Meet 2020 Recipient Diane Wood

Diane Wood, gifted resource coordinator at Norman’s Lincoln Elementary School, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Donna Gradel Fund for Teachers Fellowship. She is pictured above with OFE Executive Director Emily Stratton (left) and Donna Gradel (right).

Diane’s fellowship – deferred till summer 2021 because of COVID-19 – will take her on an 18-day journey through Italy to investigate the Italian Slow Food Movement, which seeks to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast food, and combat people’s dwindling interest in where food comes from and how it impacts the world around them.

Diane will also explore the European Union’s plan to end food waste, examine Italian school cafeteria standards and gain firsthand experience in organic farming and sustainability practices. Through her learning experience, Wood plans to help her students explore ways to reduce food waste at school and in the community and make healthier, more environmentally friendly food choices.