ELLIJAY, Ga. – May 3 saw exciting news for Gilmer county as State School Superintendent Richard Woods made the announcement of Gilmer County Charter School System as the second highest score in the Literacy for Learning, Living, and Leading in Georgia (L4GA) grant by the Georgia Department of Education.
Over sixty districts applied for funding and a panel of trained reviewers scored the applications. The districts with the highest scores received the grant.
Chief Academic Officer of the Gilmer County Charter School System Lottie Mitchell said, “We are so very proud of the hard work and dedication of our site facilitators, district, community and school literacy teams.”
According to Mitchell, Georgia was awarded a total of $61,579,800 over three years through the federal Striving Readers grant competition. Ninety-five percent of the funds are sub-granted to 38 districts. The funds are distributed on per-pupil allocations to achieve the goal of the L4GA initiative, to improve student literacy learning.
With this grant in our county, Gilmer will receive approximately $1.46 million dollars over the next three years. These funds are allocated for students in schools within a feeder system (including birth-age 5 childcare providers and elementary, middle, and high schools).
Gilmer County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes expanded on the excitement saying, “As your superintendent, I could not be any prouder of this team! The dedication and commitment to the students and teachers in our district is overwhelmingly outstanding! I am so proud to work alongside of all of you every day!”
Though the school system does not have specific details yet on exactly how the money will be spent, Mitchell states it is to be dedicated specifically to the improvement of literacy in the schools.
“It’s a great day for literacy in Georgia,” said Woods. “I am confident the $61 million Georgia is now able to invest in local schools and communities to support literacy will impact the lives of thousands of students. I commend each L4GA grant recipient – the competition was fierce as we received an unprecedented number of applications. Making sure Georgia students are reading on grade level remains mission-critical, top-priority work for us and I have no doubt these districts – who submitted clear, focused, student-centered plans to improve literacy outcomes – are going to use these funds to make a tremendous difference for kids.”
Additionally, the $61,579,800 Georgia received through the federal Striving Readers grant competition, the “parent grant” Georgia received from the federal government and is subgranting to 38 of its districts, was the highest award received by any state. Georgia was one of three states to receive the funding a second time after the initial grant cycle (2011-2016).
The State Superintendent, Richard Woods stopped into Clear Creek Middle School for a tour and chat on Thursday, January 19.
During his visit, Woods spoke with Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Chairman Jim Parmer, Board Member Nick Weaver, Principal David Mashburn, and Vice Principal Nicole Pike as well as several teachers about their school and its students. According to Woods, Clear Creek is the seventh school he has visited this month as he makes several of these trips to “see what’s going on in the schools… As we begin looking at proposing things for education or the districts, it allows us to talk to superintendents, talk with teachers, and principals, and students and say what’s working, what’s not. To get ideas about changes.”
Woods was not only given a chance to speak to administrators, but he was also treated to a tour of Clear Creek Middle by students Emily Serna, Ange Davis, and Alexis Sirmans. The tour encompassed a chance to look in on classes during teaching, a trip into both the band room and chorus room, a look outside at the school’s Agriculture Facility, and ended up with Superintendent Woods’ first time in a school’s pep rally since taking office in 2015. Woods stated he enjoys having student ambassadors for tours and offering those leadership roles. He always requests to at least have a chance to spend time with students and faculty to listen to “their world.”
Woods did take notice of several things including the new Agriculture Facility which he applauded as a greater connection to the community. “We’re seeing a lot of greater ties throughout where schools are reaching out to the communities, where this becomes a family or community hub… Whether its business or Mom and Dad, having them active in the life of our children shows that education is important. I think by showing that is important, the kids see a clear example of what is going on.”
Another note Woods took was our school’s incorporation of technology for our students. From incorporating Chrome Books and Tablets to full computer labs, Clear Creek has updated to the modern times. Woods said he saw the opportunity to reach children today through technology as a platform. “It is the environment our children are growing up with today.” The question becomes, according to Woods, how to incorporate that technology into the educational environment.
As he walked away from speaking with Gilmer’s Teachers at Clear Creek, Woods offered that he saw excitement and hope in the school. He spoke of a transition he is seeing. With a little pull back on an emphasis on testing, Teachers can have and give hope to their students through their passion.