Claudiette Brown (standing), a teacher at Moore Elementary School in Griffin, explains why her school is grateful to receive a $3,000 grant from EcoLab, during a reception held Thursday for educators. Brown says 98 percent of the students at her school are on the free-or-reduced lunch program.
By Elaine Rackley
A McDonough manufacturing plant is working to ensure that Southern Crescent-area schools have some of the "extra" tools educators say they need, in producing successful students.
The EcoLab plant, located at 261 Highway 155 South, has donated $42,000 this year to the schools, as a part of its 2010 -2011 "Visions for Learning, Excellence in Education" program, said Penny Jones, senior EcoLab human resources representative.
The program enables schools to acquire materials and resources through grants.
EcoLab held a reception Thursday at its McDonough plant, for the eleven schools in Henry, along with others from Griffin-Spalding, and Upson counties. Eight educators from the three counties attended the reception.
"I delivered all of the checks this year," said Jones.
Receiving grants in Henry County were: Bethlehem Elementary ($ 4,700), Pleasant Grove Elementary School and Fairview Elementary School, ($3,000 each); Dutchtown High School ($2,900), Stockbridge Middle School ($2,500), Red Oak Elementary School ($2,200), and Locust Grove High School ($1,500).
The remaining grants were awarded to schools in Upson County and Griffin-Spalding County, officials said.
Essentially, the goal of Ecolab's grant program is to encourage, and reward creativity and innovation in classroom learning, and to motivate, and increase student achievement, by providing opportunities that will help students understand the connection between school and life, according EcoLab.
"In economic hard times, our business is operating on a reduced budget. It has been different than it has been in previous years." said Jones. "As a company, we know that whatever we have, it's always enough to share and give back to the community," Jones added.
"People assume schools have all of the materials they need for the students," said Claudiette Brown, of Moore Elementary School in Griffin. Her school received a $7,500 grant. Brown said 98 percent of students at her school are on the free-or reduced-lunch program. She said some of her grant money will be used to purchase reading materials for the special education department.
"EcoLab bridges the gap ... because it would not have been possible to purchase these extra reading materials, if it had not been for them. They saw the need and met it," the educator continued. "It will help improve reading and listening comprehension," said Brown. "The students will become better at recalling facts, and details."
Brown's sentiments were echoed by Cindy Barton, a second-grade teacher at Pleasant Grove Elementary School. "We are going to purchase math manipulatives, to help the students understand math skills, and a reader's theater, to develop reading fluency and comprehension," said Barton. She added that her school will also purchase a computer program, "Education City," which will help reinforce reading and math skills.
Pam Nutt, a member of the Henry County Board of Education, and a media specialist at Moore Elementary School in Griffin, said her students have transformed an overgrown school courtyard into a hands-on learning center.
"We appreciate EcoLab so much," said Nutt. "The grant will be used for an outdoor classroom, reading materials and student journals."
Her students will be keeping journals of their gardening experiences, as they work with new plants in the spring, she explained.
EcoLab Plant Manager Jerry Quigley said the "Excellence in Education" program started more than 20 years ago. He told the educators visiting the facility to continue to submit their proposals for funding. The grants, he explained, are designed to help develop the students' growth.
"It's all about community, giving back, and the importance of education and building future leaders of the country. EcoLab will benefit from those future leaders," said Quigley.