#From the Founder Friday: Introducing our “2016 Spark In Education” Winner! #FFF

By LaunchPad

Some of you may remember and may have even participated in our first annual #NominateATeacher2015 campaign last November to find our 2016 Spark in Education! North Cow Creek School teacher, Mr. Damon Donnelly won by quite a landslide with a combination of numerous nominations on both Instagram and Facebook. He is our very first winner IMG_2860-2for the LaunchPad award. Please scroll to the bottom to read his bio and learn a little bit more about him.

We were able to visit his classroom to present the award and recognize him in front of his students along with our sponsors Dutch Bros Redding and The Centre for Facial Plastic Surgery. You could see in his students, his passion for teaching and the connection he held with them, which was both exciting and fulfilling for the presenters of this award as well!

Since our program relies on teachers to help us find children who have a spark and just need a little extra help monetarily to gain access to the many extracurricular activities out there. We, along with our sponsors, decided to take the month of November to show our appreciation by asking the public to “nominate a teacher”. The winner received a plaque from LaunchPad, a $250 prize and $250 to apply towards a child of their choice in the LaunchPad program! We are also in the process of creating a t-shirt specifically for our “Spark in Education!” Their picture and bio will remain on our website to share with our readers and sponsors.

We want to thank all of the teachers out there for doing so much for our community everyday by touching lives and being that special “spark in education!”

Get to Know Mr. Damon Donnelly

I want to say, “What an honor it is to be recognized by LaunchPad 4 Kids”. This program helps students find ways to fulfill their dreams, no matter what obstacles that might be in their way. Knowing that past, present and, even future students and parents were involved in my selection of this honor, makes it even more special.

I grew up in the small town of Orland, California where I was active in all kinds of local sports. My summers were consumed with my participation on the Orland Otters Swim Team. My first experience at teaching happened when I was given the opportunity to work at the Orland City Pool. I was trying to earn some spending money and part of my responsibility was to give swim lessons to some of the kids. I will always remember the look on that first boy’s face when he actually started to swim. I had helped him conquer the water and I was hooked. There was a special feeling within me as I watched the enjoyment on that child’s face. Knowing that I had helped, in some small way, give him a skill that he would use the rest of his life gave me a profound sense of accomplishment and pride. Swim lessons would lead to coaching and coaching would become a driving force of my education.

I graduated from CSU Chico and after earning my Teacher Credential, got my first opportunity to actually teach in a school. I taught 5th grade in Burney California and loved living in the mountains. Life events, though, would lead me in several directions. I moved back to Orland and took a temporary teaching position in a 4th grade class. I again had to relocate and was hired at North Cow Creek Elementary in 2004. I spent my time teaching 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th grade. In 2011, I was again displaced and so I went to Anderson Middle School and taught 8th grade math. I was able to return to North Cow Creek Elementary and am currently the 8th grade teacher there. I feel incredibly blessed to be teaching Middle School Math and Science to some of the best students in Shasta County. Every past experience in education has given me a unique perspective to teaching. I experienced wonderful times at each past site and I have memories that will always have a special place in my heart.

I love my job! I am just as passionate about learning today as I was as a child. I was always a good student and school was easy and fun. I want to share this love of education with my students. Every day is a new opportunity to LEARN. Education and learning are the tools which opens the doors to so much in life. I am proud to empower my students with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful, successful in future academics and in life. A positive attitude is also important. I have always told my students that if they smile the world smiles with them. I’m lucky because my students make me smile. I look forward to seeing them daily and I feel especially lucky when a former student comes by just to “check in and say hello”. I’ve been rewarded with 14 years of amazing students and can’t wait to share in the experience of my future students.

I have an amazing 7 year son who constantly makes my life interesting and fun. During our spare time, you will find us exploring the great and fascinating outdoors that are at our doorsteps here in Northern California. I enjoy exploring new areas, trying new things and experiencing life to its fullest. I try as hard as I can to share these passions and interests with my son and to each one of my students. I try to encourage them to live their life to its fullest, to the best of their ability. I am a firm believer that their future is very much my future and I cannot wait to see how each and every life I am lucky enough to encounter will turn out.

Damon Donnelley