MSU course teaches educators skills in grant writing

Bianca Moorman/The Meridian Star

Yolanda Davis, center, who was working as an academic coach at West Hill Elementary last year reads to a group of students at Poplar Springs Elementary School. Students, from left: Cameron Willis, 10, Karmelo O'Brien, 11, Jayden Tate, 11, Zy'Keria Ford, 10, and Cooper Tibebitts, 10.

When Penny Wallin was a teacher and administrator, she repeatedly was told there was no money for her to help her students.

Wallin is now doing something about it by offering a class for teachers on how to write and obtain grants.

“I said, no, that is not acceptable, there has to be another way,” Wallin said.

Wallin, who is an associate professor of educational leadership at Mississippi State University-Meridian, teaches a directed studies graduate course that either allows teachers to apply for a grant or write a research paper. Last month, four teachers from local schools recevied grants.

Teachers from Northeast Elementary School, West Hills Elementary School, Philadelphia High School and Leake County High School received grants totaling $12,000. The teachers received grants in different areas that include dual enrollment, literacy tools for students who are struggling with English and language arts and helping students to become proficient in technology literacy.

Wallin said since teachers are leaders in the classroom, grant writing is a good skill to have. Writing and receiving grants, give educators hope in finding creative ways to meet the needs of students, Wallin said.

MSU course teaches educators skills in grant writing

Bianca Moorman/The Meridian Star

Cierra Ball Williams, the lead teacher at Northeast Elementary School, successfully applied for a $2,500 grant while being a graduate student at MSU-Meridian. The grant will allow her to purchase materials to help students with literacy. 

“When there is a need, how do we act as educational leaders,” she said?

Graduate student Cierra Ball Williams, the lead teacher at Northeast Elementary School, successfully applied for a $2,500 grant that will help with K-4 students who are struggling with literacy. The grant will be used in getting literacy tools such as Chromebooks and tablets.

The tools will be used for reading, small group instruction and low-level readers, Williams said. The students will be able to use technology in the classroom for an hour and a half.

While writing the grant, Williams said she used information about her students because they come from different backgrounds.

“We have so many from different, low-socioeconomic backgrounds, they need that extra support in reading,” she said.

Many of her students don’t have access to technology at home, she said.

“If we can bring those (tools) into the classroom to help out with that instruction, that would be great for the students,” Williams said.

The school is waiting for the grant-funded materials to arrive.

Academic coach Yolanda Davis, another MSU-Meridian graduate student, wrote a grant to help purchase reading materials for students. Davis who was working with students at West Hills Elementary School also received a $2,500 grant from Dollar General.

Davis said wanted a grant to help students who are not proficient in reading. The grant will allow students to read fiction and nonfiction books, sshe said.

“We want students to perform at grade level to show growth,” Davis said.

Davis said she was humbled to receive the grant because the school district and the community had the same vision to help students to succeed. Davis said she could have written a paper but felt like writing a grant would have a bigger impact.

“I wanted something that would get to our students immediately,” Davis said.

The grant will help expose students to different genres such as non-fiction and books about current people in society. Davis said the school also plans to have Scholastic news for students.

The school will also be looking to purchase e-books and to help children with reading deficits by having the material read out loud. The reading materials will be used during small group instruction, during one-on-one teaching instruction and will incorporate skills with the literature.

The benefit of the grant not only helps the teachers and the community but it helps students, by giving them that extra push, Davis said.

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