4 finalists also honored for exceptional service to schools, communities
The Buffalo Bills and M&T Bank announced and honored the ninth annual M&T Bank "Touchdown for Teachers" program finalists and winner at a private draft party event on April 27 at the ADPRO Sports Training Center at New Era Field (Etkin is shown far right).
The annual M&T Bank "Touchdown for Teachers" program honors local educators for their outstanding service to their schools and communities. Honorees are chosen based on involvement in their school and community, its impact and their demonstrated commitment to education. Of the 470 nominations received, five educators were declared finalists:
The grand prize was awarded to David Etkin, an ELA and social studies teacher at Sweet Home Middle School in Buffalo. Sweet Home will receive a $2,000 grant, and students in Etkin's classroom will receive a visit from a Bills player.
Etkin was nominated "for Touchdown for Teachers" by a parent of one of his students. At Sweet Home, he breaks learning barriers by actively engaging students through technology, and shares additional information with parents and students through blog posts and a class Facebook page. Etkin led his students in raising money for the Ugandan Water Project and educated his students on that serious situation. He's helped assemble food for needy families and participated in mission trips. Etkin also serves as the faculty adviser of Sweet Home's electronic student newspaper.
"You won't see them scoring touchdowns on Sundays, but Monday through Friday, teachers like Sweet Home's David Etkin are hard at work strengthening the future of our community by serving as positive role models for students in their school districts," said Jim Jarosz, M&T Bank retail market manager in Western New York. "This incredible class of 'Touchdown for Teachers' honorees has proven their commitment to making a difference in our community. Our team at M&T Bank is inspired by their stories and impressed by their dedication to their students."
Each of the four remaining finalists received $500 in grant funds to use toward furthering their impact on their schools and communities.
"Together with M&T Bank, the Buffalo Bills have sought to identify and honor educators who go above and beyond the requirements of their positions to make a difference," said Erica Muhleman, Pegula Sports and Entertainment's EVP of business development. "When we read Mr. Etkin's nomination, it was clear that he exemplifies the mission of this program and works to make a tremendous difference both inside and outside his classroom. The Bills are proud to honor him as the winner."