American Education Week

Dr. Sherry Morgan is the newly elected president of Phi Delta Kappa. With more than 90,000 members globally, Phi Delta Kappa is a group for educators. Its purpose is to promote the importance of good education.

While in Meridian, Dr. Morgan paid a visit to Oakland Heights Elementary, a school, which is becoming well known for receiving outside grants.

"Last year we received a Reading Excellence grant through the state Department of Education. That brought over $300,000 into our school. also, this year we received a Barksdale Reading Initiative grant. With that grant we have a $150,000 coming into our school buying books for the children," said Dr. Kim Benton, Principal.

"Oakland Heights is doing the right thing. Schools have to apply for grants. The key is to look for grants that will benefit your community and look for groups that will support it," said Dr. Morgan.

Each year about one-third of the 40 certified teachers at Oakland Heights apply for grants. Over the years, teachers from the school have received grants from agencies such as Wal-Mart, the Junior Auxiliary, Keep America Beautiful and the list goes on. School officials say the key to getting these grants is greatly due to the initiative and creativity of the teachers.

Ronnie Shumaker is one of those teachers. Over the past eight years, the fifth grand teacher has been award seven grants.

"It is a lot of paperwork, as far as filling out the proposal. After you get the grant you have to write a summary and reflection on how it worked in your classroom. However, all of the work is worth it. The projects add so much enthusiasm to the classroom," said Shumaker.

Money from the grants is used to fund special projects and tutorial sessions. Since receiving the grants, officials at Oakland Heights say students test scores in reading and math and steadily increased. According to Dr. Morgan it is this increase which is just more proof about how grants really can make a difference.

"And the things I see here have reinforced that idea. It really does pay off to go the extra mile," Dr. Morgan said.