Something that gives me great satisfaction is my work on the board of the national organization, Rural Schools Collaborative.  For several years, RSC has been awarding small grants to teachers in rural schools.  While there is not a lot of money involved, I have visited with many grant winners and to them, it is as if we gave them the keys to Fort Knox.

Most work in systems that struggle to meet their basic needs which means “every little bit helps.”.

Offered in conjunction with our Alabama Hub at the University of West Alabama, funding was provided by Parker Griffith Family Foundation, University of West Alabama, Black Belt Teachers Corps, Larry Lee, and Alabama Friends of Rural School with matching funds from the Rural Schools Collaborative. Grant recipients will attend the Digging Into Rural Traditions Conference at UWA on September 18, 2018.

And the winners are:

Tiger Pride: Creating Beauty from Ashes: $825 to Monette Harrison of Greenville Middle School for a school beautification project where students will work hand in hand with the town horticulturist as well as other community members.

Sixth Grade Academy Garden: $1,600 to Cody Brown of Admiral Moorer Middle School in Eufaula City to allow for its new Sixth Grade Academy students to participate in a community garden that will serve to provide students with a substantial real-world experience outside the classroom. Kids will be able to work with their hands outside the doors of the building providing a service to the school community all the while building real-life skills and creating pride in their school campus.

The Three Sisters and S.T.R.E.A.M. Education: $600 to Warren Truitt of Mount Olive Primary School to support a gardening project that will reconnect rural-based students to the land around them, and to introduce them to some of the practices and legends of the indigenous peoples who once lived in this area. Students will use pre-existing raised beds on our school’s campus. Students will plant corn, climbing beans, and squash, elements of the “Three Sisters” Iroquois legend. Although the Iroquois were based farther north than our region (southeast Alabama), their agricultural innovations spread via migration.

Growing Together: $1,100 to Brittany Williams of the University Charter School in Livingston to fund a project that will focus on beautifying rural Livingston’s downtown through gardening and by partnering with local small businesses. The beautification project is a student-driven plan that will broaden each learner’s creativity and aid them in receiving and becoming owners of authentic learning experiences.

Tiger’s Closet: $2,000 to Amanda Kirkman and Kristin Phillips of the Black Belt Teachers Corps for their project with Westside Elementary School in Demopolis. This effort created a “closet” that includes coats, hats, gloves and socks for students in need.

Growing and Developing in Pre-K: $1,000 to Allyson Jacobs of the Black Belt Teachers Corps for her project with Moundville Elementary School. This program addressed the need for student-centered gross motor skills development at the pre-K level.

York West End Literacy Center: $2,000 to Ebonee Spinks and Devante Giles of the Black Belt Teacher Corps for their project with York West End School. This effort converted a classroom into an inviting literacy center that engages students and teachers.

STEAM Lab: $2,000 to Macy Bush and Mellisa Grayson of the Black Belt Teacher Corps for their project with Choctaw Elementary School in Gilbertown. This effort led to the creation of a fully-equipped STEAM Lab for students, teachers, and the school community.

Congratulations to all of these teachers for their efforts on behalf of their students.  It is unfortunate that so many don’t appreciate the contribution they make to our society.