By Rachel Shirey
JONESBORO — A career technical instructor at Mount Zion High School has been awarded a $1,000 Walmart Educational Grant through the corporation’s Local Community Contribution Program.
“I’m still shocked that I got it, so I’m riding on cloud nine about that,” William C. Cooke, Jr. said.
Cooke said he’s excited about the opportunities the grant will provide for his students.
“We believe that your organization is doing important work for the communities you serve, and we are proud that we are able to support you in your efforts,” according to a letter from the foundation.
Cooke provides resource assistance to students with disabilities in Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) classes at the high school.
He said he will use the funds to pay fees and expenses for students to attend a spring or fall CTAE Leadership Conference.
“The students participate in different types of career workshops that are pretty much geared to their level,” Cooke said. “They also participate in different types of competitions that relate to the CTAE classes. For example, they might have a competition in agriculture, or a competition in food and consumer science, a competition in wood shop.”
“It’s fantastic,” he later added. “The kids love it.”
Cooke said they’ve recently faced budget cuts and this grant will help him support the dreams of his special needs students.
He currently works with a class of around 30 students, but not all of them will be eligible for the leadership conference.
However, he still plans to use the grant to help those students as well.
“A lot of times, our students don’t have the funds to help them, for example, go out on a job interview or anything job-related,” Cooke said. “That’s why I want the grant. To help support them.”
The Walmart Local Community Contribution Program provides support to local schools, colleges, universities and other nonprofit organizations located in communities with Walmart stores. Grants generally range from $250 to $5,000.
“I’m a firm believer that everyone can do, everyone can learn, and I don’t have a bad day,” Cooke said. “I love what I do. I love the kids. They keep me young. They keep me alive and that’s the best I can tell anybody.”