Four Alabama teachers named Riley Scholars

Distinction comes with $1,000 scholarships to support classroom projects that bring history to life.

Birmingham, AL | November 21, 2022

Grant Opportunities Teacher Education
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. / Nov. 21, 2022 — The Alabama Humanities Alliance has announced four recipients of its 2022 Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship. Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship to support creative classroom projects that enhance students’ understanding of history and civics.

Since 2003, the Alabama Humanities Alliance has named 101 Riley Scholars and funded more than $100,000 in teacher scholarships. These competitive scholarships are named in memory of Jenice Riley — daughter of former Alabama governor and first lady Bob and Patsy Riley — and they recognize K-8 educators who share Jenice’s passion for teaching and extraordinary commitment to enhancing the quality of education in Alabama.


This year’s winners are:

Adriana Shirley, Blossomwood Elementary (Huntsville)
Project: Alabama the Beautiful (4th Grade)
Through this project, students will get a hands-on opportunity to explore communities beyond their own. After conducting research on different counties across Alabama, students will create 3-D “suitcases” that will include information and artifacts relevant to their respective counties. Students will then then take their school community and local leaders on a virtual “road trip like no other” to showcase what they’ve learned.


Sharon Neal, Prince of Peace Catholic (Hoover)
Project: All About Alabama (4th Grade)
Each year, students in Neal’s class research famous Alabamians and dress up as “wax versions” of their historical subjects to present their findings. To expand students’ research opportunities, this scholarship will enable the purchase of new books about Alabama’s people, landscape, and history. It will also allow Neal to acquire additional teacher resources to enhance the school’s fourth grade history curriculum.


Melissa Motes, Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies (Mobile)
Project: Student Historians Becoming Local Documentary Producers (8th Grade)
This project will equip students with the tools they need to translate their historical research into short documentaries. Films will focus on either the history of indigenous communities in Mobile or the history of Barton as a school. Students will become historians and storytellers as they explore the impact of immigrant groups and the importance of local archaeological sites.


Willie Davis III, Charles F. Hard Elementary (Bessemer)
Project: Let’s Explore the World Together (Kindergarten)
The purpose of this project is to introduce students to a diversity of cultures they likely haven’t experienced before. Students will learn about different countries, ways of life, celebrations, and traditions through discussion, literature, international cuisine, and other humanities-rich tools. The goal is to put students on the path to becoming global, well-informed, and empathetic citizens.


Next year’s Riley scholarship competition will open in Spring 2023. For more information about the Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship, visit


About the Alabama Humanities Alliance
Founded in 1974, the nonprofit Alabama Humanities Alliance serves as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. AHA promotes impactful storytelling, lifelong learning and civic engagement. We provide Alabamians with opportunities to connect with our shared cultures and to see each other as fully human. Through our grantmaking, we help scholars, communities and cultural nonprofits create humanities-rich projects that are accessible to all Alabamians — from literary festivals and documentary films to museum exhibitions and research collections. Learn more at