Schools receive $1.6M

August 31, 2004

Bulletin Staff Writer

The Harvest Foundation handed out $1.6 million in grant funds to area schools Monday as part of the "Leadership for Success" portion of its five-year commitment to improving local education.

The grants, which were announced in May, were given to each public school in Henry County and Martinsville, as well as Carlisle School, to help boost reading and math skills, according to foundation Executive Director Harry Cerino.

The checks were handed out during a ceremony at Chatmoss Country Club attended by teachers, administrators and school board members from the three school systems, in addition to members of The Harvest Foundation. The ceremony capped off a day of instructional workshops attended by staff members from all three school systems.

"The Harvest Foundation has an unshakable commitment to education," Cerino said. "We believe that we can help the schools achieve the results that they already expect of themselves ... Education will drive the future of this community."

The grants were distributed proportionally based on each school's size, Cerino said, and upper schools received more than lower schools. Each school is free to use its grant how it sees fit, he added.

In addition to improving reading and math skills, the grants are a vehicle to build leadership within the schools, Cerino said.

"Some schools are more focused on math (than language), and vice versa," Cerino said. "Our interest is in having the schools build ownership around the things they're doing to improve the education of young people."

Accordingly, each school already has formed a strategic leadership team to study how to implement its grant. These leadership teams, comprised of teachers and administrators, were acknowledged Monday as they received the checks from foundation board President Donald Hodges.

To aid these teams moving forward, keynote speaker Wilma Hamilton, former superintendent of Sarasota County, Fla., public schools, talked about "Leadership in the Age of Change."

She praised those in attendance for their proactive approach to leadership.

"Your efforts make this community a lighthouse of change," for others to follow, Hamilton said.

The different school divisions also are working together to share strategies, according to foundation assistant executive director Allyson Rothrock. Monday's all-day workshops joined teachers from Henry County, Martinsville and Carlisle to promote the sharing of their successes and failures, she added.

"They're doing some high-level difficult work," Rothrock said. "And they're working together."


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