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Candace Williams, executive director of Arkansas' Rural Community Alliance and Rural Schools Collaborative advocate, traveled to Weiner, AR to thank Grants in Place participants.

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Place-Based Learning Thrives in Weiner, Arkansas

May 10, 2016

The Rural Schools Collaborative was pleased to make two 2015-16 Grants in Place awards to Weiner Elementary School in Weiner, Arkansas. Tara Harrelson, 3rd through 6th science teacher, and Tonya Matthews, 3rd through 6th grade literacy and social studies teacher, were each grant recipients in our inaugural Grants in Place program.

Recently, Candace Williams, executive director of Arkansas' Rural Community Alliance and Rural Schools Collaborative advocate, made the 120 mile drive from her Little Rock office to Weiner, where she visited with the participating teachers and their students. Not only did Candace have an opportunity to present the teachers with their respective Grants in Place classroom poster awards, but she chatted with students and saw firsthand the results of their place-based work.


Left: Tonya Matthews receives her Grants and Place poster award from Candace Williams; Right: Tara Harrelson receives her poster award.

Candace truly enjoyed her visit and was excited by what she saw. "Ms. Matthews' class used Mac laptops to create a movie depicting each student's family history, and they'll have a community movie day at school to showcase their work to the public." Matthew's project was called From the Beginning: Weiner Schools. For the project students interviewed community members and did research on the history of Weiner Schools, spanning from its early days to the recent closure through mandated consolidation of Weiner High School.

Candace was also excited by the prospects for Harrelson's community and school garden expansion. "Mrs. Harrelson purchased benches for the outside classroom," Candace reported, "and they are set to plant pumpkins and other fall harvest produce."


Weiner Elementary School students pose on the newest features in their school and community garden.

Of course, ultimately, place-based learning is all about the students. Candace remarked, "The students were so excited to show me their work! Thank you to the Rural Schools Collaborative for helping to provide these grants."

Additional funding support for the 2015-16 Grants in Place program came from the Rural Community Alliance and Brent and Jeannie Glover of Jasper, Arkansas. The application deadline for the 2016-17 Grants in Place round was March 15th. The Rural Schools Collaborative will be announcing next years' recipients in the near future.

Arkansas' Rural Community Alliance is a founding partner of the Rural Schools Collaborative and is their state's leading advocate for rural schools and communities.

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