By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Association for Excellence in Education celebrated its 30th birthday on Thursday by focusing on the organization’s past.
During AEE’s annual meeting, held in the Carver Elementary School gymnasium, displays noted various projects schools have been able to accomplish through the years thanks to AEE’s funding.
Those included a Dr. Seuss celebration at Parkway Elementary School, recording equipment at the Early Childhood Education Center and writing and science labs at Lawndale Elementary School, among dozens of others.
“We have so many creative teachers and creative ideas, and they wouldn’t be able to implement them without these funds from AEE,” said Lawndale fifth-grade challenge teacher Sally Amos.
AEE raises funds to support the Tupelo School District through classroom grants and monetary awards for high-performing teachers. This year, it will commit $80,000 to the district, pushing its 30-year total to $2.8 million.
That total includes more than $66,000 to fund 19 grants this year. Recipients were announced Thursday. The organization has also committed $10,000 to the Teachers of Distinction Award program and will provide funds for a few smaller projects.
A grant written by Joyner Elementary School’s Caren Barber received the Founder’s Grant award, which provides her an additional $500 to use in her classroom.
Titled “Monet’s Music Garden,” the grant will create an outdoor learning center, including an interactive drawing board, a garden and outdoor instruments.
AEE received 50 grant requests this year, totaling about $250,000.
“The quality of grants was outstanding,” said AEE President Brent Waldrop. “We are seeing teachers work together on grant proposals that touch more students.”
Thursday’s meeting also honored one business and two individuals for their support of AEE and Tupelo schools. Franklin Collection Service won the J.C. Whitehead Award for corporate education advocates, and Dr. Mark and Dianne Craig received the Jack Reed Sr. Advocate for Education Award.
“It makes me feel good we’ve done something that makes a difference in the community,” said Dan Franklin of Franklin Collection Service. “The community has been very good to us.”
Mark Craig said also said it was important to give back to Tupelo.
“We feel like to whom much has been given, much is expected,” he said.
AEE Grant Winners
The Association for Excellence in Education pledged more than $66,000 to fund the following grants submitted by Tupelo school district teachers:
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CENTER
• “Early Sprouts: Growing Green Thumbs,” $6,300.10 – Katie Pannell, Melinda Lee, Elizabeth Lair.
• “iWrite,” $5,840 – Allison Hall, Traci Wood.
• “Monet’s Music Garden,” $5,402.50 – Caren Barber. Winner of $500 Founders’ Grant.
• “There’s an App for That: Using iPads in a Special Needs Classroom,” $4,121.67 – Jalema Tidwell.
• “Lego My Robotics,” $1,993.79 – Tabitha Easter.
• “Four Corners: Art Around the World,” $3,101.06 – Amanda Koonlaba.
• “The Wright Stuff,” $3,905.05 – Sally Amos, Joannah Ballard.
• “Math in Motion: A Hands-on Lab Experience,” $3,523.58 – Kristen Roberts, Krista Weems, Tosha Armstrong, Annette Akins, April West, Caitlin McCollum, Willie Mounce, Courtney Wilemon.
• “Science Fun Day,” $3,450 – Sarah Brown, Deloris Jenkins, Anne Marie Littrell, Tracye Nance, Crystal Wilson, Marrion Winders.
• “Who Dunit?” $458.88 – Theresa Winter.
• “Making Math FUN-damental,” $4,590 – Donna Jones.
• “Oceans: The Final Frontier of Discovery, Exploration and Assimilation,” $6,649.97 – Sherry Willis, Kaye Roper, Connie Buse.
• “Lego Learning,” $7,017.18 – Connie Buse.
THOMAS STREET ELEMENTARY
• “Around the World in Arty Days,” $1,115.51 – Michelle Guyton.
• “Life Lab Courtyards,” $1,101.01 – Michelle Guyton.
• “Thinking Outside of the Cage,” $1,348.50 – Christy Jordan.
• “That’s Life,” $1,972.05 – Kalicia Henderson, Sharronda Evans, Kathy Bondurant, Tritina Siddell.
• “WTHS: From the School to the Community,” $3,200 – Jason Varnon.
• “Building Together to Create Forever,” $1,014.96 – Niki Peel, Tim Wiggington.