Today, the New York Jets announced the winner of their M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers program, Kristen Hart. Hart, from Renaissance Institute High School received a surprise visit from Brandon Copeland, a $5,000 grant and a VIP experience at Jets training camp.
The M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers program recognizes local teachers for outstanding contributions to their students, schools and communities with a focus on promoting physical fitness, health, wellness and nutrition.
Nominated by her husband, Loren Hart, Kristen has been a teacher for the Jersey City Public School District for nearly 25 years and a Jets season ticket holder for 15. She started the Liberty Cheer program in 2004 in hopes to give her female students more opportunities. Hart then launched the Achievement Through Education, Athletics and Mentorship Project (ATEAM) in 2007, with the goal of providing all sixth, seventh and eighth grade students with a nurturing environment off the streets through athletics and help feed them into high school sports.
Hart continued her journey to improve conditions for kids in 2012 by spearheading the efforts for the million-dollar renovations of their community recreation sports complex. In 2013, she began her assignment at Renaissance Institute which served to help students who failed in homeschools. Hart took a wholistic approach after noticing the anger and anxiety issues common amongst her students, prompting her to establish a greenhouse on the third floor of the building. Additionally, Hart created a yoga and dynamic mindfulness program with the help of aggressive grant writing and funding. The efforts for her students have led to better grades and decreased violence both in and out of school and improved student-athlete focus, including on-field performance.
"First of all, thank you to the Jets and M&T Bank. I'm completely surprised and so grateful for the recognition," said Hart. "I think honoring teachers and recognizing the hard work that they do is great. The students are the reason why we do what we do and why we come to work every day. It is truly a calling and an inspiration to be around such great students."
In addition to the surprise ceremony, Hart received a meet and greet with Brandon Copeland, and a personalized jersey. After the program, students participated in a small reception and a Jets Play 60 clinic.
"We are excited to announce Kristen Hart as the winner of the M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers Program. Her dedication to not only her students, but the entire Jersey City community, made her a standout from a long list of qualified applicants," said New York Jets President Neil Glat.
Nominations for the M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers program included essays describing how teachers impacted their schools and communities. In addition to Hart, a runner-up was selected.
Richard Eva, a 12th grade teacher from Randolph High School in Randolph, NJ, will receive a $1,000 grant for their school, along with an invitation to be a VIP at training camp.
"So many teachers go above and beyond for their students and have a lasting impact on the communities we serve. The Touchdown for Teachers program is one small way we can thank the teachers and staff of our local schools for their hard work and dedication," said M&T Bank Regional President Tom Comiskey.