At the conclusion of its monthly meeting on Monday, Superintendent Robert Sparkman presented board members, as well as those in attendance with a powerpoint production describing the vision, mission and goals of the Fund.
“The Excellence in Education Fund is an all-volunteer fundraising organization made up of community members, teachers, parents, Jasper City district administrators and board members,” Sparkman said. “Since its inception in 2007, the Fund, which has a goal to achieve a $625,000 budget, has already received $85,000 in donations and grants to provide cutting-edge resources for schools, students, programs and teachers in the Jasper City School District.”
With a vision to provide children with the highest-quality education possible, the mission of the Fund’s operators will be to provide this quality by any means necessary to support 21st century learning in an environment which provides students the opportunities for success.
Math, Science and Technology Enhancement
The Jasper City School System seeks solutions that not only help students improve their math skills, but give them a competitive edge to succeed in a knowledge-based economy.
Sherrie Pike, Business Manager at Southern Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Associates, P.C., said, “As an Administrator, I have firsthand knowledge of what an important role our excellent school system plays in the recruitment of new physicians to our community.”
The goals to enhance Mathematics programs are:
• to define the concepts that all students must master
• to sponsor events that excite students and parents about scientific and mathematical careers
• to bring science and mathematics professionals into schools to work with students and teachers
• to send teachers and students to work with such professionals at the scientific job site
With growing globalization and foreign competition in the fields of science, it is important to provide primary through secondary school students with adequate science skills. To do so, improvements include:
• better laboratory facilities and equipment
• more field trips
• varied guest presentations
• the offering of more resources to teachers
Studies have shown positive effects on student achievement through the use of these technologies when paired with robust training programs for teachers. New technological appliances featured will be digital whiteboards and interactive software to provide a highly interactive learning environment.
The budget of this particular facet will be $275,000, with the math, science and technology fields each receiving one-third of expenditures.
Ensuring our Graduates are Life and Work Ready
As the needs of the business community continue to evolve, the Board’s model of education will keep pace to provide students a competitive edge in tomorrow’s work force.
“Our community has a vested interest in ensuring our students are graduate-ready because they are our future,” said Haig Wright of Byars & Associates.
The following characteristics that work-force ready graduates will posses are goals of the Fund:
• a solid foundation in all academic, career and technical education courses
• financial, economic and business literacy
• the achievement of a self-awareness of their interests, aptitudes, personality traits and skills in order to make wise career decisions
• the recognition that the globally competitive world will be 10 times more challenging in finding and obtaining employment on a constant recurring basis
• the awareness that they will change jobs within a career cluster several times. To do so, they will need a “knapsack” of pre-employment tools to make these changes
• the mastery of 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem-sloving and communications
The budget of the workforce-ready component will be $100,000 with expenditures divided amongst career inventories, early college enrollment, business office education, job shadowing, cooperative education experiences and Health/Science programs.
Foreign Language Instruction
Learning a foreign language in elementary school is an essential part of a child’s education and development. To acquire a diverse understanding of the world and its coherent function, students must attain full comprehension of other languages and lifestyles.
Bruce Windham, Vice President of Government Affairs with The Drummond Company Inc., said, “Learning a foreign language will strengthen our students’ career potential and broaden their employment opportunities. It is a skill they will carry with them for life.”
The goals of the foreign language component are:
• to strengthen students’ skills in language acquisition and knowledge of other cultures
• to act upon statistics and studies that show young children are most susceptible to foreign language mastery due to the elasticity of the brain
• to emphasize the importance of student proficiency in a foreign language and the workforce need for graduates to be prepared to live and work in a global context
• to respond to the state, national and international levels to improve foreign language competency of Americans
The budget of the foreign language objective laid out by the Fund is $100,000, with assets divided amongst an itinerant teacher, printed materials, online resources and IVC Lab equipment.
Expansion of Performing and Fine Arts
With arts being amongst the highest expression of every culture, they teach citizens about every historical period through literature, visual arts, music, dance and drama.
The Walker County Arts Alliance’s Lynn Mishkel said, “I’m committed to bringing the Arts to Walker County. Art allows our eyes to see, our ears to hear and our brains to imagine.”
Learning through the arts often results in greater academic achievement and higher test scores. The goals of the Arts objective are:
• a partnership with the Walker County Arts Alliance
• a traveling art museum
• an Artist in Residence who circulates between schools
• enhanced music curriculum and performances - both choral and instrumental
• guest children’s books authors
• extended day programming
• park and recreation partnerships
• art and music enrichment classes
A $150,000 budget will be designated to the Performing/Fine Arts aspect of the Fund, with expenditures ranging from drama performances, materials and supplies, an Artist in residence, and necessary software.
A Leadership Team comprised of local leaders of many businesses and management positions, as well as political figures and parents has been created to provide diverse administration of the Excellence in Education Fund.
Those interested in investing in the Fund, will be provided many specific benefits for their funding support.
Also, a Community Report will be given to report to the public exactly where the funds’ assets have been distributed and the progress that has been made as a result of investors’ support.
Jasper City School Board member Monique Rector believes the citizens should want to provide any means necessary to ensure that younger generations get the opportunity to succeed.
“I believe that it is our responsibility to provide every available learning opportunity to our students,” she explained. “Children learn through a variety of methods - one size does not fit all.”
Contributions are tax-deductible and there are many methods by which to donate. To contact members of the Jasper City Board of Education, call (205) 384-6880, or the Walker Area Community Foundation Office at (205) 302-0001.