As school districts throughout North Carolina tighten their belts, more and more teachers in Sampson County are finding creative ways to bring money into the classrooms.
During a monthly meeting for the Sampson County Schools Board of Education, it was announced that teachers received a combined total of $132,335 in grant funding.
Susan Warren, public relations and student services coordinator for the district, reported that it’s a record for the district.
“The teachers are having to do more with less money,” Warren said. “They have found a way to make things happen in their classroom.”
The majority of the grants came through Sampson County Friends of Education, which receives a majority of funding through United Way of Sampson County; and Bright Ideas, sponsored by Four County EMC locally, and North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives statewide, to help further traditional academic learning through innovative scholastic projects that go beyond available school funding.
Warren said there was a time when Bright Ideas and Friends of Education were the main sources of grant funding in the district. But now, there’s more opportunities such as the Sampson County Love of Learning Grant program through the Simple Gifts Fund. Warren said it has been a big boost for the district.
“Simple Gifts have provided our school with tremendous support for (a few years),” Warren said. “That has been a tremendous resource for our teachers.”
Margaret Turlington, coordinator of the Simple Gifts Fund, said it’s important for students to have experiences beyond the classroom.
“Through the love of learning grant program, they have new opportunities …,” she said about students taking field trips outside of Sampson County.
It also provides opportunities for educators to receive more educational certification and go to professional development classes.
“It’s a way to enrich our community, enrich our educators and enrich our students,” Turlington said.
Another popular grant included DonorsChoose, a nonprofit organization which allows individuals to donate to public school projects through the online website, www.donorschoose.org.
“They’re really seeking out a lot of grant opportunities,” Warren said.
The recent Warren said the district will recognize more grant recipients next spring.
“We wanted to be able to recognize all of these teachers that reached out tried to write grants to better their classrooms,” Warren said.
Teachers throughout the district are encouraged to seek out grants.
“Our schools have been cut so much and our hands have been tied from federal constraints, cutting back state money and cutting back local money,” Warren said. “We’ve had so many cuts and our classrooms, they feel it.
“These teachers have just found a way to better their classrooms and keep their innovative idea going,” she said. “To me, it seems like there’s so many good people out there willing to give grant opportunities. Our teachers are really doing a great job in seeking out those opportunities.”
Fireman stops major leak
Keith Powell, a member of the Taylors Bridge Fire Department, was honored by the Sampson County Board of Education for helping the district with a water issue.
He was traveling past Union Middle School on Oct. 22 and noticed a stream of water running from the onto the highway. Next, he pulled into the school, traced the water back to a faulty outside faucet. He turned it off and contacted the Division of Plants Operations.
According to school officials, his actions saved the district from having a large water bill.
During the recent meeting, Lou Nelon, executive director of auxiliary services, and board member Faye Gay, made remarks about his work and presented him with a certificate. Nelon said the district’s maintenance staff is dedicated to their jobs, but they can’t see everything. Nelon said Powell was humble about the honor and said “anybody would have done it.”
” …this is a great opportunity to publicly thank one person, who represents a lot of people all over Sampson County, rather their parents or just good folks in the district passing by — do look out for us and have a real desire to look out for us.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.