Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship applications open May 1

Scholarship has wide reach, powerful impact

Imagine special education students with emotional and social needs sitting in a classroom with special ‘extras’ designed to help them focus. They sit in ‘wobble’ chairs and handle ‘fidget’ objects, and fairly soon, they learn to concentrate.

Misty Turner with former Alabama First Lady Patsy Riley at award ceremony.

They call the chairs an active seating solution that allows students to “wiggle” without being distracting. It sounds simple enough, but it’s one of the ways teachers can deal with the challenges of teaching a child with autism, ADHD or another disability.

The familiar phrase, “Sit still,” is soon replaced with an engaging classroom experience, where both teacher and student interact successfully. It is more effective, innovative teaching thanks to those ‘extras’ made possible through the Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship.

It is one of those tools that can have a tremendous impact on teaching, but school systems across the state struggle financially to provide much beyond the basics.

“These items help tremendously during moments that need a little calm down time,” said Misty Turner, a special education teacher at Westwood Elementary School, who was one of the winners of the $1,000 scholarship in 2019. “We have been working on emotional regulations, social skills and correctly using positional words. I was able to purchase fun and engaging activities for all of these. The students have loved using all of them.”

About Jenice Riley Scholarship

The Alabama Humanities Foundation awards the Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship annually at their awards luncheon. Created in memory of Jenice Riley, the scholarship recognizes educators who share her extraordinary commitment to enhancing the quality of education in Alabama. Daughter of former Alabama governor and first lady Bob and Patsy Riley, Jenice had a passion for teaching and fostered creativity and a desire to learn in her students. She encouraged parent involvement and actively promoted better educational programs in her community.

The $1,000 scholarship is awarded to K-8 educators in support of history and civics-related projects in their schools and classrooms. The award aids teachers in attending a conference, purchasing classroom materials, or creating programs that enhances students’ understanding of history and civics.

Who is eligible to apply to the Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship?

The scholarship competition is open to current Alabama educators of grades K-8, in public and private Alabama schools. Teachers must be current educators in the K-8 classroom who seek to enhance the classroom experience or expand their professional development in the areas of history and civics (this includes geography and Alabama geography, Alabama history, world history, U.S. history, and civics).

How do I apply?

Interested educators should download and complete this scholarship form and submit it, along with a cover letter, to

The deadline to apply is Aug. 28, 2020

Past Winners

2018 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship Recipients:
Ms. Janet Leffard, a teacher at Olive J. Dodge elementary school in Mobile (Mobile County Schools). Ms. Leffard used proceeds from the scholarship to purchase historical costumes. Ms. Leffard received her scholarship check on October 29,2018.

Tammy Brown, a teacher at Central School in Huntsville (Madison County Schools). Ms. Brown used the funds to gamify her lessons. Ms. Brown received her check on October 16, 2018.

Jana Hadley and Wendy Turner are teachers at White Plains Elementary school in Anniston (Calhoun County Schools). The teachers used the scholarship to teach Mid-20th century Civil Rights history to 4th graders using “Breakout” kit materials. Ms. Hadley and Ms. Turner received their check on October 30, 2018.

Mrs. Karen Grimes, librarian at the Salem Elementary in Orrville (Dallas County Schools). Mrs. Grimes pledged to use the funds to form a partnership with the Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center. Mrs. Grimes received her check on October 22, 2018.

2017 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship Recipients:
Carly Nelson, Demopolis Middle School, Demopolis
Tiffany Rushing
, Knight Enloe Elementary, Roanoke
Della White
, Chickasaw High School, Chickasaw
Lisa Williams, Brownwood Elementary School, Scottsboro

2016 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship Recipients: 
Lisa Compher, Central Elementary, Rockford
Yvonne Hare, North Highland Elementary, Bessemer
Kim Hinds, Deer Valley Elementary, Hoover
Lori Nelson, Chaffee Elementary, Huntsville
Harrow Strickland, Pick Elementary, Auburn

2015 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship Recipients:
Katie Tiner, Handley Middle School, Roanoke
Hannah McEwan, Leeds Elementary, Leeds
Katie Poole, U.S. Jones Elementary, Demopolis
Stacey Williams, Wetumpka Elementary, Wetumpka

2014 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship Recipients:
Lindsey Irvin, Calera Intermediate School, Calera
Abby Lucas, St. Aloysius Catholic School, Bessemer
Lesa Roberts, J.E. Williams Elementary, Huntsville
Brandy Russell, Weaver Elementary School, Weaver
Haley Dykes, Paine Primary School, Trussville
Lucy Bloodworth, McElwain Christian Academy, Birmingham

2013 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship Recipients:
Diane Henderson, East Lawrence Middle School, Trinity
Suhai Kennedy, Martha Gaskins Elementary School, Birmingham
Janet Leffard, Dodge Elementary School, Mobile
Allison Wesley, Ashland Elementary School, Ashland

2012 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship Recipients:
Shea Thompson Forest Hills Elementary School, Florence
Janice Carden Vernon Intermediate School, Vernon
Fredna Grimmett Ogletree Elementary School, Auburn
Regina Everett Saraland Elementary School, Saraland

2011 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship Recipients:
Rebecca J. Davis, Cahawba Christian Academy, Centreville
Debbie Redden and Tammy Quillin, Montgomery Catholic Prepatory, St. Bede Campus, Montgomery
Mallory Richardson, Edgewood Elementary School, Homewood
Stephane Nicole Singleton, Harlan Elementary School, Florence

2010 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship Recipients:
Takisha Durm, PACE Alternative Education, Huntsville
Cheryl Evans Hall, Lacey’s Spring School, Lacey’s Spring
Diane Henderson, East Lawrence Middle School, Trinity
Mary Elizabeth Lee, New Market School, Huntsville
Gerri McDonald, Perdido Elementary School, Perdido
Beverly Robinson, Crossville Elementary School, Crossville