By Chanda Temple
Birmingham City Schools
Green Acres Middle School Principal Dr. Willie Goldsmith is on Cloud 9.
He recently learned that his school has earned a $1.49 million federal grant for school improvement and innovation in education and curriculum. The School Improvement Grant, also known as SIG, will be spread out over the next four years.
“I’m elated about this much-needed funding,” Dr. Goldsmith said. “The great thing that I like about it is it will allow me to be more innovative with programs and offerings for students. With that, we will start Positive Action, which is a reform model that connects the school and the community to increase community involvement and parental engagement.”
“Not only will this grant connect us with community partners, but it will allow us to come up with a plan after the grant ends. I think it will forever change Green Acres,” he said.
One of the first things he plans to do with the money is buy Chromebooks for every classroom. Currently, the school’s 12 classrooms have to share three carts of laptops. So, if one class is using the laptops for a lesson, for example, the other classes have to wait to use the laptops.
The school also has a computer lab, but it can only seat a certain number of students. Dr. Goldsmith said that by having laptops available for every classroom, that will only help advance student learning and help improve test scores. The money will also be used to cover a grant coordinator and various tools to help students and parents. The school has 315 students in grades sixth, seventh and eighth.
He learned about the grant through Cherrye Parker with the district’s office of federal programs. “I researched it and she said it would be a lot of work. She encouraged us. I said, ‘If we get the money, it would be worth it,’ ” Dr. Goldsmith said. “My staff members and I put in the time.”
Green Acres was one of seven schools across Alabama to earn the federal grant this semester. It was the only Birmingham school to receive a SIG this fall.