Alabama Power Foundation grant makes ‘virtual learning’ a reality for rural Greene County students

Greene County students work on computers at school before COVID-19 forced the shift to home learning. Many students didn’t have home internet access, but a grant from the Alabama Power Foundation supplied Chrome books and hot spots the students will be able to use at home.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Alabama schools to close their traditional classrooms in March, Corey Jones said it hit his students in rural Greene County doubly hard.
“We’re one of the poorest school districts in the state, and most of our students don’t have computers or access to the internet,” said Jones, Greene County School System superintendent. “We had to print out instructional packets and use buses to deliver them to students. Having to rely solely on printed materials put them at a significant educational disadvantage.”
Jones said because most parents in his school district are still concerned about sending their children back to the classroom in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, remote learning will continue during summer school and most likely through the fall semester. But thanks to the Alabama Power Foundation, Greene County students will soon have the technology they need to navigate their new virtual classroom.
The foundation provided a grant to the Greene County School System to help pay for Chrome books for 600 students in grades K-12. The funds will help purchase hot spots for students living in the most rural areas where broadband is unavailable. This technology will be used by students at Eutaw Primary, Robert Brown Middle and Greene County High schools.
“The pandemic has created many challenges for education in our communities – especially in rural areas,” said Alabama Power Western Division Vice President Mark Crews. “This grant will help Greene County schools overcome barriers such as access to the internet and computers as they prepare for distance learning. We’re proud to be a partner to our schools and thankful that the Alabama Power Foundation’s grant will be utilized in such an important way.”
Jones said the grant will be a real “game changer” for his students.
“It has been a godsend to have the Alabama Power Foundation partner with us,” Jones said. “The grant will allow us to provide resources to our students during this critical time so they can continue instructional learning and receive educational opportunities. Now every student will have access to devices and the internet, and will be able to use them anytime in the comfort of their home.”
Greene County School Board President Carol Zippert added her thanks and said the Alabama Power Foundation’s gift will make all the difference.
“We value our students and are deeply committed to providing the best educational services and opportunities for each one,” she said. “We also recognize that to accomplish our goals, we need partners who are sensitive to our student and community needs and aspirations, and are willing to reach out and share with us. Alabama Power Company is a longtime friend and supporter of the Greene County School System, and we take this opportunity to acknowledge the goodwill spirit of this relationship.”
Jones said some students will begin using their new Chrome books immediately during summer school.
Additionally, plans are to offer a summer learning program to help students catch up on the curriculum they may have missed from March through May. There will be an enrichment program to boost learning during the summer and support students who are struggling academically.
Jones said the Chrome books – fully loaded with all necessary programs and ready to use out of the box – have been ordered and are in route to students’ homes. The school system is working closely with internet providers to set up the permanent hot spots.
Jones believes that virtual learning is here to stay – even after the coronavirus is no longer a threat.
“We already know that students are affected by the ‘summer slide’ and lose much of what they have learned,” Jones said. “But with COVID-19, it will be worse this year because summer started in the middle of March, and students will have been away from school for a much longer time. Even after COVID-19 goes away, we will be using these devices to extend learning time to week nights, weekends and the summer.”

Dr. Jones introduces new administrators at Robert Brown Middle School Superintendent Jones indicates need to improve student performance on standardized tests

Shown L toR: Brittany Harris Assistant Principal and Shwanta Owens Principal at  Robert Brown Middle School

At his first official school board meeting, held Monday, July 15, 2019, as Greene County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Corey Jones presented a summary of the Scantron Series Performance Data on Reading and Math in grades 3-8 from the 2018-2019 school year. “I want everyone to see just where we are,” Jones stated. He further indicated that we are in the process of developing a plan to improve student performance on standardized tests and will be utilizing the Scantron Assessment as a bench mark assessment. “This is an approach supported by the Alabama State Department of Education,” Jones said.
Superintendent Jones presented the new Administrative Leadership at Robert Brown Middle School. At the June 10, 2019 school board meeting, Ms. Shwanta Owens of Hueytown, AL and Ms. Brittany Harris of Demopolis, Al, were selected respectively as Principal and Assistant Principal at RBM beginning this 2019-2020 school term. Each greeted the board and attendees, pledging to work diligently in the best interest of the students and the school system.
Dr. Jones also announced that school uniform policies will still be in place for the upcoming school year, as well as the special dress codes for the 9th Grade Academy. He stated that specific information would be placed on the web site, in local media and distributed otherwise to parents and community.

The personnel items recommended by the superintendent and approved by the board include the following:

  • Re-Hire: Jacqueline Raby, School Nurse, for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Resignations: Tamecisha Abrams, Grade Teacher, Eutaw Primary School, effective, July 1, 2019, and Miakka Taylor, English Language Arts Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School, effective July 11, 2019; Jeffery Noland, Social Science Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School.
  • Employment – Eutaw Primary School: Chandra Toney, 3rd Grade Teacher, Re-hire; Jameka Jackson Sutton, Kindergarten Teacher; Lurena Smith, Kindergarten Teacher, Re-hire; Sandra Artis, Pre-K Teacher; Domonique McDaniels, 3rd Grade Teacher.
  • Employment – Robert Brown Middle School: Ashley Harrison, 4th Grade Teacher; Latausha Mitchell, 5th Grade Teacher; Ashley Moody 7th Grade English Teacher, Re-hire; Chardell Fredd, 8th Grade Science Teacher; Leanita Hunt, 5th Grade Teacher.
  • Voluntary Transfer: Janice Jeames, from Physical Science Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School to Science Teacher at Greene County High School.
  • Employment – Department of Transportation: Latasha Lewis, School Bus Driver; Carla Russell, School Bus Driver.
  • Transfer of Employee: Gloria Lyons from the position of Cafeteria Manager at Greene County High School to Cook at Greene County High School.
  • Hire: Jacqueline Edwards, Part-time Janitor.
    The board approved the following Additional Service Contracts for the following employees at Greene County High School for the 2019 – 2020 academic year. (Separate Contract):
  • Rodney Wesley, Head Basketball Coach; Danielle Sanders, Head Girls Basketball Coach; Brittany January, Assistant Girls Basketball Coach; Janice Jeames, Girls Softball / Volleyball Coach; Corey Cockrell, Head Football Coach; Fentress Means, Assistant Football Coach; Jacob Sullivan, Head Baseball Coach; Linda Little, Cheerleader Sponsor.
    The board approved Additional Service contract(s) for the following employees at Robert
    Brown Middle School for the 2019 – 2020 academic year. (Separate Contract):
  • Henry Miles, Head Football Coach; Jacob Sullivan Assistant Football Coach; Jeffery Wesley, Head Basketball Coach; Corey Cockrell, Assistant Basketball Coach; Dorris Robinson, Cheerleader Sponsor.
    The board approved the following Administrative Service Items:
  • Authorization to remove Dr. James H. Carter as an Authorized Board Representative and signer on all Greene County Board of Education accounts.
  • Authorization to add Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones as Representative and signer on all Greene County Board of Education accounts.
  • Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Helping Hands Therapy to provide Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy for the 2016 – 2017 school year.
  • Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Deonna Blalock, to provide school psychometric services for the 2019-2020 school year.

School Board finalizes new superintendent’s contract

Dr. Corey Jones, new superintendent Greene County School System finalizes employment contract with School Board Members Kashaya Cockrell; Carrie Dancy; Dr. Jones; Attorney Hank Sanders; Board President Leo Branch and Board Vice President Dr. Carol P. Zippert

The Greene County Board of Education met in a special session, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, to finalize the contract for employment of Dr. Corey Jones, the superintendent-select for Greene County School System. Dr. Jones’ employment is for a three year term commencing July1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2022.
The official document states that this contract “… shall remain in full force and effect unless modified by mutual consent of the school board and the superintendent or unless terminated as provided in the contract under the Termination” heading.
The school board must also notify the superintendent in writing on or before June 30, 2021, (one year prior to his contract ending) whether or not it intends to renew the contract for an additional term commencing July 1, 2022. Likewise, if the superintendent intends not to seek another contract with the school district, he must give the board written notice of his decision no later than one calendar year prior to expiration of this contract.The superintendent serves as Secretary of the Board and as educational leader of the district “…as required by the laws of the State of Alabama and the lawful policies and directives of the board. The superintendent’s duties shall include those duties as set forth in Alabama law, and Greene County Board of Education Policy.”
The contract states that no later than October 1, 2019 the superintendent shall develop and submit to the board in writing proposed school system goals and objectives. “The Strategic Plan should be addressed in the superintendent’s goals and objectives along with the proposed means of measuring such accomplishments.”
Beginning June 1, 2020 and for each year of this contract thereafter, the school board shall evaluate and assess in writing the performance of the superintendent using an instrument selected by the board.
Dr. Jones will receive a salary of $102,000 annually and will be entitled to state pay raises afforded certified personnel in the appropriate tier. Other benefits available to the superintendent include health and related benefits; retirement benefits; life and disability insurance; vacation time; sick leave; professional growth experiences; professional membership in related fields; technology and related support; business expense allowance; and access to an automobile for personal and professional use.