I believe Brittany Williams is the epitome of what we are doing right in education in Alabama. She was in the inaugural cohort of the Black Belt Teacher Corps at the University of West Alabama and has just completed her first year as a kindergarten teacher at University Charter School on the campus of UWA.
The Rural Schools Collaborative is a national organization that played a major role in getting the Black Belt Teacher Corps up and running. I have the good fortune to serve as secretary of the RSC board. Gary Funk is the executive director. Several years ago he came to UWA and introduced them to the teacher corps concept, based on the Ozark Teacher Corps in Missouri. Dean Jan Miller embraced the idea and it was off and running. We were fortunate to convince state senators Bobby Singleton and Arthur Orr and representative Bill Poole to furnish the initial seed money. As we have since seen, it was money well-spent.
RSC believes strongly in place-based education which is another way of saying that students use community resources as part of making their classroom lessons more meaningful. To this end, the organization awards small grants, normally $1,000 or less, to teachers to implement projects. I have blogged about a number of these, such as this piece about Monette Harrison at Greenville Middle School.
Brittany also received a grant. Go here to read about how she and her young students put it to good use in Livingston. It will show you once again that education is all about what takes place in our schools and that what we hear coming out of Montgomery is far, far removed from the real world of education.