Rutherford County Schools

Skip to main content
Main Menu Toggle

BEP Announces Emil and Lilly Hassan Teachers’ Fund Award Winner

May 31, 2019


Rutherford County Schools


Rebecca Jones was named the winner of the inaugural Emil and Lilly Hassan Teachers’ Fund Award, according to a release from the Business Education Partnership.


Her project, “Going Molecular – 21st Century Biology,” will initially involve approximately 400 ninth-grade students at Rockvale High School, where she will serve as chair of the Honors and Advanced Placement Biology Science Department when the school opens this fall.


The Hassan Fund will provide $8,600 for the start-up durable lab equipment necessary for students to conduct molecular-based biological research in addition to funding consumable supplies for a variety of molecular techniques.


Jones was surprised and excited by the win.


“What an incredible honor to have my grant selected for the Emil and Lilly Hassan Teachers’ Fund,” Jones said. “Rockvale High School is going to be offering numerous innovative programs and with the funds provided by the grant the Rockvale High School Biology Department will be able to Go Molecular.


“Students will have the opportunity and the equipment to conduct laboratory activities focusing on DNA studies and more, providing them with an authentic 21st century biology experience.”


Beyond the scope of the awarded project, students throughout the school will be able to conduct guided investigations and apply what they learn to independent investigations within the Biology I and Advanced Placement Biology curriculum.


Jones’ proposal states that students will “participate in hands-on basic microbiology techniques of plating bacteria, the basic structure of DNA, then on to the application of these basics to research in how DNA fingerprinting is done, how new classes of medicines are made, and how cells can detect the specialized chemical signals from the multitudes of hormones produced in the body.”


The Emil and Lilly Hassan Teachers’ Fund was recently established at the Business Education Partnership with a $100,000 donation from retired BEP board chair Emil Hassan and his wife Lilly.


A selection committee comprised of leaders in both business and education was formed; the Hassans’ son Elias “Yaz” Hassan serves as chair of the committee, and their son Ramsey Hassan serves as co-chair.  Committee members deliberated individually and collectively to evaluate the proposals.


Yaz Hassan said, “It was a tough decision, but we are excited to award our parents’ first grant to Rebecca Jones for ‘Going Molecular’.  The way Rebecca will integrate the project into the curriculum is going to give her students a look into the real-world application of the science they are learning.  Ramsey and I were impressed with the number of teachers who took time to develop fabulous ideas to help the students of Rutherford County.  We encourage the teachers to keep the proposals coming, and we look forward to what great ideas are yet to come.”


When informed of the award, Rutherford County Schools Director Bill Spurlock said, “We are happy that Rebecca Jones will be the first recipient of the Emil and Lilly Hassan Teacher Fund.  The funds awarded will help provide greater opportunities for our students.”


Steve Luker will serve as principal of Rockvale High School.


“We are thrilled to find out that Mrs. Jones has been awarded The Emil and Lilly Hassan Teachers’ Fund Award for Rockvale High School. Mrs. Jones understands the importance of providing every opportunity for our students to learn and perform at a high level and the grant will allow us to implement new strategies. We are proud to have her on our staff,” he said.


The purpose of The Emil and Lilly Hassan Teachers’ Fund is to provide resources for classroom projects that cost more than $500.


Teachers are eligible for grants in sums of up to $10,000 per proposal; a maximum of two proposals per teacher may be submitted and potentially awarded.