We’ve told you about the wonderful small grant program run by the national Rural Schools Collaborative. Last year they were able to fund nine different projects across the state–thanks to the support of the Parker Griffin Foundation and the Alabama Education Association.
The largest grant was $1,050 for students at Handley High School in Roanoke to work on an archaeological dig of a long ago Indian village. I visited the site and was blown away by the enthusiasm of the students of teacher Merredith Sears. Other projects included improving school and community relationships, a community health project, an outdoor education center, a fourth grade garden project, etc.
It is fantastic to see students working on these “hands on” projects. They are definitely engaged.
And word about the program has spread rapidly around the state. The application deadline was April 15 and Gray Funk, director of the Rural Schools Collaborative, says there are 59 applications from Alabama this year. They are looking for support for things such as: outdoor learning classrooms, family literacy events, learning technology, a beekeeping project, community gardens, aquaculture projects, etc.
You can help support this effort by going to this link to donate. Gary assures me that every donation from Alabama will be used to fund an Alabama teacher’s project.
I just donated and it was quick and simple. If you can, please join me and put a smile on a teacher’s face–and her students too.
(Editors’s note: It is impossible to write about this program and not think about the way our new state school superintendent has been spending money on a $750,000 no-bid contract for a CFO, a $500,000 contact to Massachusetts consultants and more and more state department staff. Maybe he should go talk to some of the teachers who are working hard to finance a small project for their school. No wonder the morale of teachers continues to drop.)
April 15 is the deadline for teachers to submit rural grant proposals to the Rural Schools Collaborative. Click here for directions as to how to apply, which can be done on-line.
The application process is simple. Primarily just a short description of what the applicant intends to do with the grant.
Alabama had nine grants funded last year. They ranged from $250 to $1,050.
Go here to see a list of the winning schools and their projects.
OK. What is the definition of a rural school? Having long been a student of rural American and especially rural Alabama, there seem to be more definitions of “rural” than Carter has pills. Some quite detailed and academic. My definition has always been, “If you think you are in the country, then you probably are rural.”
The Rural Schools Collaborative is a group run by my friend Gary Funk out of Cambridge, WI. In a nutshell, their goal is to be of help any way they can to rural schools across the nation. Learn more about them here.
Last year they funded completion of an outdoor classroom at Meek Elementary in Winston County.
They have just announced winners for the current grant round. Fortunately nine different projects are receiving grants this cycle. This is possible because of a partnership between the collaborative, the Parker Griffith Family Foundation, the Alabama Education Association and an anonymous donor.
Here are the recipients:
Appalachian high school, Blount County system–Students will join community members in developing a celebration of Oneonta’s bicentennial.
Bridgeport elementary, Jackson County system–students will participate in the creation of an outdoor classroom by choosing and planting greenery, as well as maintaining it.
Fairfax elementary, Chambers County system–Students will restore and revamp an area into an outdoor education center.
Handley high school, Roanoke city system–Two projects were funded at Handley. One will be an archaeological effort by students to learn more about Randolph County history; while the other will assist in developing an organic soap business.
Hazel Green elementary, Madison County system–Students here will implement a community school concept.
Oak Grove elementary, Jefferson County system–Students will participate in an interactive produce garden project with community members.
Sparkman middle school, Madison County system–Students, parents and community members will explore social media and related technologies to improve communications between the school and community.
Winterboro high school, Talladega County system–Students and parents will work together to develop community nights where high-interest workshops in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and math will be conducted.
Congratulations to each school and those who worked on the grant application. And thanks again to the Rural Schools Collaborative, the Parker Griffith Family Foundation and the Alabama Education Association.