Education Foundation of Sarasota and Local Businessman Eric Baird to Give $350 to Every Teacher In Sarasota County

Todays News

BY JOHN WITTE SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY DEC 16, 2019

Sarasota County School’s instructional staff, numbering nearly three thousand strong, will receive an unexpected gift this holiday season. The Education Foundation of Sarasota County will administer a $1 million gift from local businessman Eric Baird, in the form of a $350 discretionary grant which may be used for both professional or personal purposes.

While philanthropy in the field of education is relatively common, this style of direct donation to the highly-trained professionals working in Sarasota’s classrooms in somewhat unusual. The donation, according to Baird, is made in honor of his late mother Gail, who encouraged success in others by providing them with what they needed to do their best work. 

Baird tells SRQ, My mother made me the success I am today. She was a big proponent of education and had a masters degree herself. I believe that teachers, along with parenting, provide the critical foundation for success in life.” He went on, I recently had the idea of rewarding hard working people in professions that are under appreciated but provide tremendous value. There was no better group to begin with than teachers. What they do for our children is priceless, and I have seen it first hand with my daughter. They need to know how much they are appreciated.”

Jennifer Vigne, president of the EFSC, said the organization is excited to convey the grants to teachers as the donation’s purpose aligns with the organization’s mission, which includes promoting excellence in teaching.

The reward, which will be mailed to public school teachers by the end of the calendar year, comes just in time for both holiday expenses and 2020’s rush to restock classroom supplies.

Photo: Eric Baird poses with 2020 Teacher of the Year Heather Young

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