The Crossett Educaton Alliance gave out more than $20,000 during the 2018-2019 school year, including a recent grant from a local company that allowed the purchase of new pre-k curriculum for an area pre-school.

Cherub Alford with the CEA said that the group received $3,000 from the Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund Grant. Alford said that on their application they said they wanted the funding to be able to provide centers at the Crossett Learning Center to enhance the educaton of the incoming kindegarteners.

Officials with CEA said that several students were entering kindergarten behind the level the kindergarten curriculum is set up for.

“For example, at least half of this year’s kindergarten students started school without knowing how to write their name or all of their letters,” Alford said. “And teachers just aren’t allowed the opportunity to go back and catch those students up.”

Crossett Learning Center Librarian Leslie Mansur had already began working with school counselor Norma Watts on “makeshift” centers where students can “play and learn” during library and counseling time. When the CEA learned of their project, they wanted to assist.

The CEA worked directly with Mansur to come up with ideas for the proposed centers that CEA wanted to implement.

Though the centers aren’t quite complete, Alford said they will be before the students go back to school in August.

In addition to helping secure grant funding for the centers, the CEA also reached out to local preschools in the area to offer new curriculum.

Each year CEA gets a certain amount of funding from Forward Arkansas for projects that will improve education and various things in the community. This year the CEA received $19,000 and a portion of that was used to purchase new pre-k curriculum for any local preschool that met the requirements.

Alford said they spent approximately $1,700 on pre-k materials in hopes that providing these to all of the local pre-k instructors would help get everyone on the same page.

“We felt like our kindergarten teachers could really benefit from this,” Alford said.

The Forward Arkansas money was used for various other projects as well.

The CEA donated $2700 to the Picnic with the Arts festival in March, they gave $4,000 to the Project Lead the Way Program, they purchased Kuder Galaxy software for the middle school and gave $1,000 to the Teacher Cadet Program. They also gave $1,405 to the CHS Agriculture Department to help with ongoing gardening projects and needs around the FFA farm.

Alford said $200 was awarded to new teachers and that any new teacher can apply. In addition to the new teacher grants that are awarded every year, the CEA offers various other grants throughout the year that can be applied for on their website.

Sandy McDill was awarded a grant for $1,450 to purchase math manipulatives and the funding to fulfill her grant came from the Forward Arkansas money the CEA had.

The CEA also partnered with students in the Crossett Middle School EAST program to help with a few of their projects. Alford said there were a few students who saw the need for a PTA program. Alford said the students wanted to do more to try to get parents involved and the CEA awarded them $1,000 in seed money to get their PTA program off of the ground.

Alford said anyone who is interested on seeking funds for next year from the CEA may contact her at the Economic Development Center or view the CEA Website.

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