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Wish granted
Teacher says grant will aid student literacy goalsThomson Middle receives money for career education

Dollar General stores has provided a Thomson teacher with some big bucks.

Thomson Middle School Principal Claude Powell recently received notice from Dollar General officials that his school was awarded a $4,685 Back-To-School grant to fund new programs, equipment, materials or software to promote literacy and communication. Mr. Powell said career education teacher Kelli Crafton applied for the grant.

"I did it back in April, so I had forgotten about it," Ms. Crafton said. "Honest to gosh, I never really thought I was going to get the grant."

But since receiving it, Ms. Crafton said she has been making plans. Career education is a nonacademic nine-week class that exposes students to different work settings and what types of education it takes to get into various careers. Most students only are familiar with the careers of their parents or close family members, Ms. Crafton said. She not only teaches about careers, but also about communication and people skills.

"We look at the overview -- how do you communicate, how do you respond effectively and properly, that kind of stuff," the four-year teacher said. "So I applied for this particular grant because I knew it would help deal with communication. And I feel communication is a very important key."

Ms. Crafton also teaches classes at the junior high school, but she said this particular grant will be used solely at Thomson Middle School.

"We're going to use it to help improve literacy, which we believe will help with overall academic performance, and to enhance communication skills," she said, adding that she plans to buy software with the money.

"In my classroom, we do reading and writing and math. But if there's any software that we could bring into my room to help with career awareness just to help enhance literacy, that's what I'm looking for. Because the more they are exposed all day, the more advanced the students are going to be in all the classes," she said.

Ms. Crafton has one year to implement her project, and then Dollar General officials will check to see if the money was spent as specified in the grant.

Thomson Middle School is one of 1,101 organizations to receive a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation this year.

The Foundation was organized in 1993 to support literacy and education initiatives to nonprofit organizations and schools.

Emily Weiss, public relations specialist with Dollar General, said the Foundation grant money is collected through donations dropped in boxes at cash registers of Dollar General stores.

"So when people put their change in those collection boxes, they are supporting literacy in their own communities," Ms. Weiss said in a telephone interview.

Dollar General is a discount retailer of neighborhood stores, offering consumable basic items such as food, health and beauty aids and cleaning supplies, as well as basic apparel, house wares and seasonal items.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $38.4 million in grants since its inception in 1993, according to a press release sent out last week by the company.

Web posted on Thursday, September 10, 2009

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