Thursday, December 25, 2008
award’ unites schools, Civil Rights Museum
By BARRY BURLESON
The Holly Springs School District has a new partner in educating its children - the National Civil Rights Museum.
The district has been awarded a $481,171 grant from the Rural Utility Services, a department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Through this grant we plan to bring the world to our community by way of video conferencing technology,” said Jones Mays, technology coordinator for the Holly Springs schools and architect of the grant. “It will allow us to give them experiences that would not be available without the benefit of this grant.”
From the nearly one half million dollar award, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., will get $200,000, which will be used to buy equipment and to assist in developing a distance learning curriculum. The equipment purchased will include one fully outfitted classroom and two mobile units that will allow the National Civil Rights Museum to share its collection with grant participants and the world.
Others in the consortium of educational entities include Rust College, the Tunica County School District, the Quitman County School District, Singapore Ministry of Education and Wiley College.
“We’re so excited,” said Gwen Harmon with the National Civil Rights Museum. “This is truly a groundbreaking award.”
The recent grant is actually an expansion of the Holly Springs School District’s Technology for the Children of Holly Springs (TECHS) program.
“Since its inception we have been able to bring in more than $3 million to the Holly Springs School District to enrich education through technology,” Mays said.
An example is the purchase of laptop computers for all the district’s ninth grade students.
“And we plan to add a grade per year until all grades, 9-12, have laptops,” he said.
Irene Walton, superintendent of education, thanked the National Civil Rights Museum and Mays.
“We are pleased with this grant award and the new relationships which will be forged between Holly Springs, other districts and the museum,” Walton said. “This program continues our mission to educate students who will compete in the global community. It will bring the world to our children, and give them exposure to all types of learning, and in turn increase student achievement.
“This is such a great opportunity. We are proud of Jones Mays, who wrote this grant and developed our TECHS program which has brought us here today.”
The school district and the museum joined forces for a live demonstration of the technology Thursday. Mayor Andre’ DeBerry was also on hand at Holly Springs Intermediate School for the press conference, as were other school district administrators, plus some teachers and students. Mays, Harmon and representatives of others in the consortium were participating in the press conference from the National Civil Rights Museum.
“This demonstration illustrates how important this grant will be in educating the students of this community,” DeBerry said. “Holly Springs is pleased to be one of the beneficiaries of this partnership.”
Walton, DeBerry and some of the Intermediate School students answered some questions for Memphis media representatives who were a part of the video conference from Memphis. Also, some students asked questions to Harmon about the museum.
“This phase of the TECHS program enhanced with the state-of-the-art technology provides a portal to the world, so that our students may have an enriched interactive learning experience,” Mays said.
The experiences will be primarily
distance learning field trips, focused on the museums and historical
sites worldwide, with the hub museum being the National Civil Rights
Museum. The colleges will provide training to teachers and staff and
college credit to high school juniors and seniors.
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