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UNF Foundation, Inc.

Celebrating excellence in teaching

For many teachers in Duval County, Gilchrist Berg is their greatest champion.

His support has impacted hundreds of lives over the past two decades, and his investment in education continues to inspire.

berg holding up a paintingIn fact, 100 teachers have received Gladys Roddenberry Graduate Fellowships for Teaching Excellence, funded by Berg. The fellowships provide outstanding teachers with opportunities to continue to develop in their field through $5,000 awards for graduate school expenses.

Ninety-six percent of the award recipients have stayed in education throughout their careers.

Not only has Berg helped teachers further their education, but each year, he provides gifts to honor educators for lifelong careers inspiring students. The Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence go to four local teachers each spring. The unsuspecting teachers are typically surprised in their classrooms surrounded by their proud students. Not only is the award a great honor, each teacher receives $15,000.

Both awards are particularly meaningful because they are named for two of Berg’s teachers during his grade school years at Ortega Elementary. “The teachers inspired him, and you can tell by what he is doing for all of us that they continue to inspire him,” said Patrice Haupt, who received the Gladys Prior Award last year.

Like all former award winners who have benefitted from his generosity, Haupt, an AP literature and composition instructor at Paxon School for Advanced Studies, is still moved by Berg’s generosity and his commitment to education. “This is a profession of passion for us, and he recognizes that,” said Haupt, commenting that it gives other teachers an opportunity to see that the work of teachers doesn’t go unnoticed.

“It is meaningful to all of us to have someone say ‘I appreciate you and what you do matters,’ not because of numbers on a data sheet but because of the impact you have on people’s lives.”

Berg’s investment in education has been significant, but for teachers like Haupt, who give so much, the recognition and appreciation is just as rewarding.