On Thursday, October 3, Leaders Credit Union, a member-owned financial cooperative based in Jackson, awarded eleven West Tennessee educators with the L.E.A.D.S. Educator Grant.
The program awards eleven $1,000 grants to area educators whose initiatives empower students to Learn, Experience, Advocate, Dream and Serve.
“The L.E.A.D.S. Educator Grant embodies who we are as an organization because we are here to serve, advocate and educate our members and allow them to dream of a new future,” said Todd Swims, president and CEO of Leaders Credit Union. “We were started by Jackson educators, so we are honored to be able to give back to those educators in a meaningful, intentional way.”
Grant proposals range from funds for a school greenhouse and food pantry, improvements to a special education classroom, band program equipment, a volunteer basketball program, to funding for a school broadcasting project.
Grant submissions included a short video explaining the need and use of the grant money. Twenty-three proposals were submitted, and the top ten winners were chosen by the community via social media voting. The submission videos were viewed over 112,000 times during the voting period.
Maury City Elementary School fourth and fifth-grade math teacher, Kiley Doyle, received one of the eleven grants for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and enrichment materials.
Doyle’s video began with students talking about how boring lesson plans can be. Doyle began speaking around mid-video and explained that she was applying for the grant to help fund the STEM and enrichment program that has started at Maury City this year.
“As we were at the beginning of the year talking about our school improvement plan that we have to do every year, we were deciding what our top needs were and we started talking about how we focus on the students who are lower achieving students and that’s always where our focus is and we are trying to bring those students up to where they need to be. One of those groups that often gets neglected is those students who are where they need to be. We often don’t challenge them enough in the classroom. We are beginning this program, they come to my class 30 minutes a day and we are doing lots of STEM activities. I have lots of higher-order thinking games and would like to be able to do more with that. So that’s what I would use the funds for. To provide these students who don’t normally struggle in the classroom a little bit of productive struggle. We’ve done some activities that they have struggled with and it’s been fun to watch them not be able to immediately complete the challenge,” said Doyle.
The video ended with students begging to be selected for the grant.
“We’ve been amazed with each grant submission we received,” Swims said. “Success is in the power of people helping people, and we plan to continue to lead the way.”