News/Press Releases

April 17, 2012

Hancock Bank, Gulf Coast Community Foundation tap four
outstanding South Mississippi teachers for 2012 Leo W. Seal awards

Main Street Bank
Angela S. Heise
St. Martin High School

Main Street Bank
Bruce Lampe
Lamar County Tech Center

Main Street Bank
Heidi Verner
Magnolia Park Elementary

Main Street Bank
Melissa Williams
Pass Christian High School
GULFPORT, Miss. (April 17, 2012) — Four South Mississippi teachers earned high marks today for creative educational excellence as winners of the Leo W. Seal Teacher Recognition Awards. Honored during an awards luncheon in Gulfport, 2012 Seal award recipients are Angela S. Heise of St. Martin High School in Ocean Springs; Bruce Lampe of Lamar County Center for Technical Education in Purvis; Heidi Verner of Magnolia Park Elementary School in Ocean Springs, and Melissa Williams of Pass Christian High School.

Selected based on proposals for innovative classroom projects complementing curriculums, winners received one-time $1,500 project grants, cash awards for supplies, and limited-edition crystal apples. Featured speaker Dr. Mary S. Graham, president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, cited ideas from the book “Great by Choice” by Jim Collins to laud the achievements of teachers receiving awards and define success factors for all teachers helping students learn in a changing, technology driven world.

“We have a lot of good teachers in Mississippi. When you find the really great teachers, you have to celebrate. That’s why we’re here today,” Graham said.

Established in 1994 and funded by Hancock Bank, the Leo W. Seal awards recognize and encourage educational excellence by underwriting original classroom teaching initiatives developed by teachers in Forrest, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lamar, and Pearl River counties. The awards also commemorate the leadership of Leo W. Seal, Sr. — Hancock Bank president from 1932 until his death in 1963 — and his son, the late Leo W. Seal, Jr., Hancock’s chief executive for 45 years, in facilitating countless economic and educational opportunities for the region. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF) manages the endowment as a permanent fund of the GCCF’s Pat Santucci Friends of Public Education program and coordinates the selection of winners.

Nomination forms for the 2013 Leo W. Seal Teacher Recognition Awards will be available at all Hancock Bank branches and school offices in the seven Mississippi counties in fall 2012. The postmark deadline to return nominations to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation is November 15. 

About the Winning Projects

Heise’s project, “iStudent,” helps St. Martin High School students realize their individual impacts on their community by employing English, art, and social science to effect self-discovery. Using self-assessments, each student will write a novel and craft a full-sized sculpture of their character to display at the school—reminding all students that choice and actions are life-sized.

A new technical program in Lamar County, Lampe’s “Renewable Energy — The Future of America” focuses on renewable energy technology and production by studying solar power as an alternate energy source. The program will also incorporate hands-on experiences and demonstrations to introduce students to career opportunities in the growing field of renewable energy.

Proposed by Verner, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — Good Stewardship & Good Business” teaches Magnolia Park Elementary School students to save money and the environment by studying earth cycles and emphasizing people’s ability and responsibility to conserve natural resources. Additionally, students will explore how reusing and recycling are good for the economy and the budget.

Williams’ “Financial Peace for Teens” brings fundamental philosophies of money management guru Dave Ramsey to the Pass Christian High School classroom as students discover the power of saving and the perils of credit as part of a Survey of Math Topics curriculum. The project will use real-world math concepts to give students a better understanding of saving, investing, establishing credit, minimizing debt, and managing income.

About Hancock Bank

With assets of almost $20 billion, Hancock Holding Company (Nasdaq: HBHC) is the parent company of Hancock Bank in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida and Whitney Bank in Louisiana and Texas. The company operates 258 branches and more than 350 ATMs across a Gulf South corridor spanning metropolitan Houston, Texas, southern Louisiana, South Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the Panhandle, northern, and central regions of Florida. More information and e-Banking are available at

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For More Information
R. Paul Maxwell, VP & Corporate Communications Director
228.867.8690 or