Association for Excellence in Education President Rob Rice did

Association for Excellence in Education President Rob Rice didn’t spend much time at Wednesday’s annual membership luncheon explaining how the organization helps support Tupelo Public Schools.

“The story of AEE can best be told through our students and through displays that illustrate just how our money is being put to use in the classroom,” Rice told about 150 AEE supporters gathered at the Hancock Leadership Center.

Each of the district’s 11 schools put together displays designed to show how AEE grants had enhanced instruction. AEE is a nonprofit organization established to generate private funds to supplement local, state and federal education funding.

A Tupelo Middle School display illustrating how the school has used Internet access in social studies and other classes caught the eye of several AEE supporters.

“For me, this has been a lot of fun,” said eighth-grader Tom Wooldridge. “Some members of the community really aren’t that up to date on what technology can really do in the classroom. It’s a really new way of learning and accessing information. It’s quicker and easier – just better. Some people jump right in and love it, and others are afraid of it and aren’t too sure it’s a good idea.”

Seated at a computer, Wooldridge showed visitors how the Internet was accessed. He also pointed them to a colorful display showing how students studying Alaska pulled information on the Iditarod Sled Dog Races for a class project.

AEE paid for some of the computers used at the school. They also paid for a device that allows information pulled up on a computer terminal to be cast onto an overhead projector.

On display

Church Street Elementary used the event to show off its Random Acts of Kindness program, which is designed to teach students basic virtues like courtesy and honesty.

An incubator project at Lawhon Elementary got the attention of a number of participants. AEE footed the bill for a classroom incubator, allowing students to watch chicks hatch and develop.

Pierce Street Elementary students and teachers showed visitors pictures and art work done in their Discovery Zone, which is a classroom lab designed to use art, music and drama to enhance basic academic knowledge. For example, students studying rabbits in science might be asked to sketch a rabbit in the lab.

Joyner Elementary had a variety of educational toys paid for by AEE on display, along with some musical instruments.

Rankin Elementary teachers showed how they’ve made use of their Internet access. The school also showed off several art projects.

A series of elementary-level Spanish tapes paid for by AEE were on display at Thomas Street Elementary’s booth, along with several puppets used in counseling sessions with troubled children.

Tupelo High School representatives brought projects done in an art appreciation class. Some of the materials used in the class were purchased by AEE. A display showing achievements of the school’s State Championship Academic Decathlon team was also featured.

Advocate for Education Awards

During the meeting, AEE also recognized the first recipients of the Advocate for Education Awards.

The awards, which are designed to honor an individual and a corporation that have been particularly supportive of Tupelo Public Schools, were based on nominations made by the public.

Henry Dodge received the individual award. The Tupelo native and businessman is one of the founders of AEE and has helped other school districts to launch similar programs.

Action Industries received the corporate award. The furniture company has a number of employees who volunteer in the school district. The company also made several financial contributions to the district.

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