Greer Women Giving
welcomes new members,
hears from educators

Greer Women Giving for Education, an initiative of the Greater Greer Education Foundation, welcomed new members at a reception March 3 at the home of Donna Smith in Greer.

Margaret Burch and Dr. Nancy Welch, founders of the group, thanked the women for their support of education in the Greater Greer area and told them that with their help, the Foundation has awarded more than $100,000 in grants and scholarships in the past five years.

"We just finished awarding grants for this year: $21,900 to 19 schools. Our teachers are doing wonderful things, and we are just happy to be able to help them."

The women heard from several teachers and the principal at Skyland Elementary School, who talked about what the grants have meant to them.

"Our teachers are passionate about their jobs," she said, "and with your help, they have brought a lot of that passion into the classrooms with special projects."

"Excellence in education requires the community and schools working together," she said. "Thank you for helping make Skyland Elementary the school that is it."

Carol Godfrey, a teacher at Skyland who has received grants from GWG, talked about what the grants have allowed her to do that she would not otherwise be able to because of a lack of funding.

"Last year we received a grant that allowed us to buy risers for our choral students. Most arts programs in elementary schools have no budget. If it weren’t for grants like this, we couldn’t do any of these things," she said.

This year Godfrey said their grant is being used for a "storytelling through opera" project. The opera? "The Three Bears."

Angie Bryant, also a teacher at Skyland, used her grant to buy art supplies, such as pottery glaze, which she wouldn't be able to buy without the grant.

"The kids are having a blast," she said. "Your money has helped us to do a lot of creative projects this year." The art the children create is showcased at a "Shining Stars Night" held at the school.

Another Skyland teacher, Erin Painter, said her grant gave her the funds to buy Kindles so that students can download books.

"The Kindle also allows the shy reader who doesn't have confidence when taking tests to take the tests on the tablet and be comfortable in doing so."

Welch talked about the scholarships given by the Foundation each year. "When we started, we gave $800 scholarships to students who were recommended by the high school principals in our area. The students attend local technical or community colleges. After talking with school administrators, they told us that $800 would not to get a student through a full year, so we have raised the scholarship amount to $1,000."

The Foundation will present scholarships in May.

Burch told the women that in its first year, Greer Women Giving for Education raised $17,000, "and we hope to keep growing and giving," she said.

Kathy Cochran, a Foundation contributor, told about being around a group of students from Byrnes High School, who have received grants for several years to fund a club that encourages health and fitness. The club, FIGHT (Friends Getting Fit Together) has many success stories.

The students participate in a 5K run every year in Charleston, with everyone doing their personal best.

"I watched a student, who used a walker, make it to the finish line. And right before she crossed the line, she put her walker aside so she could walk the last steps," Cochran said.

"This club, with coach Debbie Holcombe, gives these students a place to belong."

Burch thanked Donna Smith for opening her home to the group. "I asked her and she didn't hesitate for a minute," Burch said. She also thanked The Chocolate Toad for catering the event.

 



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