CHRIS KIEFFER: AEE provides a much-needed service to Tupelo schools

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

One of the most important supporters of the Tupelo Public School District is the Association for Excellence in Education.
Since its creation in 1983, the organization has provided over $2.6 million to fund countless projects across the district. It needs your help.
The organization has about 400 contributors but is looking for more as it tries to better serve Tupelo’s teachers. Individual memberships start at $25 – or $12.50 for teachers – although larger contributions allow the organization to fund more grants.
Next week, AEE will award $94,600 in grants for the 2010-11 school year. Teachers submitted proposals for science days, artists in residence, technology projects and countless other ideas they had that could enhance their classrooms.
Grant committees composed of AEE members met to select the winners, which will be announced Thursday at the organization’s annual meeting.
Last year, AEE had more than 500 members and was able to fund $140,000 in grants. The recession has driven both of those numbers down.
AEE is funded by the United Way, but it also relies on corporate and individual donations. That’s why it is trying to get more members and increased contributions from businesses.
Teachers requested over $500,000 in grants this year. With more money, AEE could have accepted more of those projects.
“We are able to fund projects that teachers have ideas for that are not covered under their standard budgets,” said AEE President Deborah McPherson. “We try to reward teachers who think outside the box and have innovative ideas. We want to help students with things that aren’t normally included in the public school district budget.”
To join the organization, you can contact the CREATE Foundation at (662) 844-8989. You can also join online by going to www.createfoundation.com, clicking “Donate Online” and then selecting the Association for Excellence in Education from the menu. AEE is affiliated with CREATE.
Although it is too late to RSVP for Thursday’s meeting, the public can attend a display of several of this year’s projects from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Pierce Street Elementary School.
Another public event will be Tupelo High School’s Culmination Day on April 27 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at BancorpSouth Arena. AEE helps the high school with the event, when about 350 THS seniors will present projects they’ve been working on since their junior year.
It is a good opportunity to see the hard work and impressive creations of the students. And it is a good chance to learn more about becoming involved with AEE.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.