Gibbs Elementary wins $20,000 on ‘Ellen’

Josh FloryNortheast Knox, Our Town Kids

A lighthearted faculty meeting at Gibbs Elementary School led to a starring role for teachers and administrators this week on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

During their March faculty meeting, the Gibbs staff played a version of “Ellen’s” “Taste Buds” game as a way to boost morale in the wake of countywide flooding and the flu virus.

(In the game, blindfolded players take turns eating different foods and describing them for their partners to guess the name of the item.)

After posting a picture on Twitter, the school got an email the next day from the “Ellen” show. One thing led to another, and on Monday school employees gathered in the library for what they thought was a meeting with the show’s producer to discuss a prize competition.

Ellen DeGeneres talks via video link with teachers and administrators at Gibbs Elementary School.

Instead, DeGeneres herself greeted them through a video link, inviting assistant principal Emily Jellicorse and instructional coach Lisa Moles to play “Taste Buds” and giving the school $20,000 after they successfully completed the blind taste-test game.

Jellicorse said she and Moles also got VIP tickets to attend a taping of DeGeneres’ “Game of Games” show and said the television appearance has been a whirlwind.

“It’s been amazing and surreal, and I feel like somebody needs to pinch me because I’m still dreaming,” she said. “This doesn’t happen to a school in Corryton, Tennessee, it just doesn’t happen.”

The full segment lasted more than six minutes, with the $20,000 in cash from Shutterfly presented on a platter at the end.

Jellicorse said it was emotional to find out the school had received that much money. “I’m so thankful that Ellen saw our staff and was able to see the love and the care that our staff have for each other, for our community, for our kids,” she said. “We’re a family, and I know that sounds like a cliché, but it is true.”


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