GEHS gets $225,000 21st-Century grant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 19, 2005

Thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of a few dedicated educators, Greensboro East High School will be soon become home to $225,000 worth of summer and after school activities.

That’s thanks to a three-year 21st-Century Community Learning grant awarded by the state Department of Education. The grant will award Greensboro East $75,000 for each of the next three years to establish and maintain a summer and after school “enrichment” program for the school’s seventh- and eighth-graders. The program has been nicknamed the “HYPE” program, short for Helping Young People Excel.

“We thought it would be something good for our children,” says Greensboro East Assistant Principal Denise Miles, one of the driving forces behind the grant application. “We’re very excited to have this program in place.”

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The HYPE program will officially kick off during the second week of June, Miles says, with an initial enrollment of 60 to 75 students from three different classes: incoming 7th-graders, 7th-graders, and 8th-graders. The program will be of especial benefit, Miles says, to the incoming 7th-graders who are making the transition from elementary to high school.

Because of the wide variety of activities offered by the program, Miles says the program expects to include students who both excel and struggle academically.

“We’re hoping to develop health and fitness,” Miles says. “We’ll have karate, basketball, hopefully some other sports. We’re also trying to do something with music.”

In addition to those “extracurricular” interests, the program will also offer students tutoring and study help for reading, language arts, and mathematics.

“It’s [other activities] and academics,” Miles says. “We’re doing both.”

The grant would never have occurred without the efforts of Miles and other teachers at Greensboro East, who started looking in the summer of 2004 for ways they could help the students at the school.

“We had gone on the Internet with the State Department site to see what they had available,” Miles says. Once they had found the 21st-Century grant program, “we asked teachers if they were interested in getting together over the summer to work on the proposal.”

Miles, English teacher SheMia Wilson and computer education teacher Veronica Williams

Started meeting on a regular basis at the Tuscaloosa Public library to work on the grant proposal. Although Miles says they had little experience in grant writing, the group did have the benefit of having attended “workshops and seminars,” according to Miles, that focused on how to create a successful proposal.

Those workshops paid off, but not until after the group had been dealt what they thought had been a major setback.

“We were told initially [in October 2004] that we wouldn’t receive the funding,” Miles says. “But then last month we received a letter from the State telling us we had gotten it.”

The letter came as something of a shock to Miles and the others, who had no idea their proposal was even still under consideration.

“It really was a big surprise,” Miles said. “We had already started preparing to re-apply.”

Instead, Miles and the team Greensboro at Greensboro East can spend their time preparing to make their hard work pay off for their students.

“We’re very excited,” Miles says, “and we expect it to do for our kids what we have hoped it could do.”