The Jefferson Davis County School District received $499,215 for funding on behalf of seven different schools to improve educational programming in rural communities. These schools were awarded the grant due to barriers that arise from extreme rurality, poverty, and a lack of local resources, according to the USDA press release. Additionally, the schools struggle to provide a high quality, effective education for their students. This opportunity will create new and innovative solutions for meeting today’s educational standards to ensure the students have the tools they need to compete for college placement and in the modern workforce.
“This is a big deal,” said Superintendent Ike Haynes. “We are overjoyed, and especially grateful to Timothy Bryant for his forward-thinking in obtaining this grant. And I want everybody to keep in mind this is grant money that we do not have to pay back.”
The Jeff Davis County School District will use the funding for interactive video conferencing to create a rigorous K-12 program that will prepare students for post-secondary education and job training. Through video connections with partner schools and Pearl River Community College, they will be able to add higher-level courses at the middle and high schools, provide dual enrollment opportunities, and enhance current vocational programs. This project will create career pathways for students to ensure they leave high school with a plan for success in the workforce.
“This award will greatly improve educational and economic opportunities for rural residents,” George said. “Rural communities require technological investments in their communities so they can compete in a global economy. These projects demonstrate Rural Development’s commitment in investing in rural communities.”
This investment is provided through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Loan and Grant program. It provides funding to rural hospitals, clinics, schools and libraries for equipment and technical assistance for telemedicine and distance learning. Grant recipients must demonstrate that they serve rural America, prove there is an economic need and provide at least 15 percent in matching funds.
“A better place could not have been chosen to allocate these funds,” said George.
Pictured above (l to r) Hazlehurst High School Principal Will Russell, Federal Programs and Curriculum Director for Hazlehurst School District Angela Jones, USDA Rural Development State Director Trina N. George, Jeff Davis County School District Superintendent Ike Haynes, USDA Rural Development Program Director Bettye Oliver, Hazlehurst Technology Direct for Hazlehurst School District Eric Stewart, Hazlehurst School Board Member and Professor Emeritus Alcorn State University Troy Stewart and JDC School District Director of Technology Timothy Bryant.