Edwin and Agnes Jennings Bios and Gift Agreement

Edwin J. Jennings, Sr. and Agnes May Smith Biographies

Edwin J. Jennings, Sr. (1895-1968) and Agnes May Smith (1895-1975) were married in 1919 and moved to Abilene, TX in 1920. They lived in Abilene the rest of their lives.  Mr. Jennings was a traveling salesman who spent most of his career working for the National Casket Co.  Mrs. Jennings attended the Florence Normal Teacher’s College in Florence, Alabama, graduated in 1916, and was a public school teacher in Florence prior to her marriage.  The Jennings were active and well-regarded members of the Abilene community.


The Jennings’ only child, Edwin J. Jennings, Jr., was born in Abilene in 1922.  He attended Alta Vista Elementary, Central School, and graduated from Abilene High School in 1940.  He was a member of the Abilene High School Boys Band, winner of the math award, and valedictorian of his class.  Edwin and Agnes Jennings always emphasized to their son the importance of studying hard and obtaining a college degree.  Edwin Jr. still recalls the trip his father took him on to visit Rice Institute in Houston while Edwin Jr. was a senior in high school.


Edwin Jr. attended The Rice Institute in Houston and enlisted in the Army Air Corps during WWII.  The Army sent him to UCLA, where he received a degree in Physics Meteorology.  He then became an instructor in that program before being sent to the Philippines where he served until 1946.  Returning to Rice Institute after the war, he received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1948 and an M.S. in Physical Chemistry in 1949.  He is a natural-born teacher who tutored many of the younger Rice students in math, chemistry, and physics from 1946-1949.  Those students still comment on his remarkable teaching ability.  He was hired by legendary coach, Jess Neely, to be the head tutor for the Rice Institute football team that won the Southwest Conference championship in 1949.  Mr. Jennings met Colleen Alessandra at Rice Institute in 1948, and they married in 1949.  They live in Houston and have five children who have been awarded a total of nine university degrees.





Sections 5-10 of the Gift Agreement for the “Edwin and Agnes Jennings Teaching Excellence Awards”

For the full Gift Agreement, please contact Christine Curtis-Carr at christine.curtis-carr@abileneisd.org

5. Committee. Within forty-five (45) days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, the AEF Board of Directors shall establish a Teaching Excellence Awards Committee (the “Committee”) to oversee and administer the nomination process for the Teaching Awards, evaluate the nominees, determine the recipients of the Teaching Awards and if applicable, plan the awards ceremony. The committee shall include community members who are not employees or administrators of AISD, nor an immediate family member of such an individual. The members shall not receive any compensation for their duties hereunder.

6. Criteria for Teaching Awards. The Teaching Excellence Awards shall consist of the following four (4) awards: (a) Outstanding Elementary Teacher; (b) Outstanding Secondary Teacher; (c) Outstanding Math Teacher; and (d) Outstanding Science Teacher. Each recipient of a Teaching Award must (i) be an AISD classroom teacher with teaching as the primary responsibility rather than administrative or supervisory responsibilities; (ii) have a superior ability to inspire students; (iii) be an exceptionally skilled and dedicated classroom teacher; and (iv) have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues. To be eligible to receive a particular award, the nominee must also meet the following relevant requirements:

a. Outstanding Elementary Teacher. This teacher must teach at the elementary level, which consists of early childhood to 5th grade.

b. Outstanding Secondary Teacher. This teacher must teach at the secondary level, which consists of 6th to 12th grade.

c. Outstanding Math Teacher. This teacher must teach at least one high school level math course to students in the 8th through 12th grade. For purposes of this Agreement, high school is defined as grades 9-12. A teacher is not eligible to receive a Teaching Award for this category if the only math course taught at the high school level is remedial math or some other type of math which is considered the equivalent thereof.

d. Outstanding Science Teacher. This teacher must teach at least one high school level science course to students in the 8th through 12th grade. For purposes of this Agreement, high school is defined as grades 9-12. A teacher is not eligible to receive a Teaching Award for this category if the only science course taught at the high school level by such teacher is remedial science or some other type of science which is considered the equivalent thereof.

A recipient of a Teaching Award shall not be eligible to receive the same Teaching Award for a period of two years after winning. For example, if a recipient receives the Teaching Award for Outstanding Science Teacher in the spring of 2013, such recipient is not eligible to receive the Outstanding Science Teacher award again until the spring of 2016. However, such recipient is eligible to receive a Teaching Award in a different category. Once a recipient receives a Teaching Award in the same category three times, such recipient is no longer eligible to win in this category permanently. Such recipient shall receive special recognition, as determined by the Committee, for winning the specific Teaching Award three times.

7. Nomination Submission for Outstanding Elementary and Secondary Teachers. The nomination and selection process to choose the Outstanding Elementary and Secondary Teaching Award recipients shall be determined by the AEF Teaching Excellence Awards Committee appointed to oversee the administration of the Teaching Awards program. These procedures shall be published and shall be communicated to the donor.

8. Nomination Submission for Outstanding Math and Science Teachers. To be considered as a candidate for a Teaching Award for Outstanding Math Teacher or Science Teacher, the nominations must contain the following elements: (a) a completed nomination form which shall include basic information regarding the nominee, (b) a nominating letter describing the nominee’s contributions to education in either math or science, as the case may be, and how the nominee meets the Criteria, (c) a letter of recommendation from at least one (1) of the nominee’s AISD colleagues; (d) a letter from at least one former student of the nominee who is an AISD high-school graduate, or one still enrolled in high school, which states how the nominee positively affected or influenced him or her and describes the nominee’s ability to teach effectively. A similar letter from a currently enrolled student of the nominated teacher should be encouraged and considered but should not be absolutely required. The nominator may submit additional letters for each applicable element and should be encouraged to do so in the call for nominations. The letter(s) from the AISD graduates shall be a significant factor in selecting the recipient of each award in these categories. Winners should be exceptional teachers as reflected by the performance of their students on nationally standardized tests, college performance, and the opinions of their students and professional peers.

9. Selection and Presentation of Teaching Awards. After analyzing and evaluating the submitted nominations, the Committee shall select the both the finalists and recipients of the Outstanding Teaching Awards. AEF shall use good faith efforts to (a) publicize the awards ceremony thorough print, broadcast and online media; and (b) use the existence of the Endowment and the awards ceremony as a promotional tool to encourage local businesses and other potential donors to sponsor the awards ceremony, establish similar awards or donate to the Endowment.

10. Amount of Cash Gifts for Recipients of Teaching Awards and Finalists. The selected recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award in each category shall receive a cash gift calculated in accordance with the formulas set forth in Appendix A, which is attached to and made a part of this agreement. The number of finalist awards and the amount given to each finalist shall be determined in accordance with the procedures specified in the Appendix. All gifts shall be in increments of $100.00. The total cash distributed to the finalists and winners of the the Elementary and Secondary teaching awards must be less than the total cash distributed to the finalists and winners of the Math and Science teaching awards. Notwithstanding any other provision in this agreement to the contrary, the procedures and limitations set forth in the Appendix shall control the number and amount of the cash gifts. The Committee is not required to distribute the total dollar amount designated by AEF. The cash gifts awarded under this Section shall be used by the recipients for any purpose. It is the donor’s intention that the cash gifts will increase over time to reflect increases in the cost of living, such as reflected by the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), but no adjustment shall be made until the COLA indicates the award should be increased by $100.00.