Each year the IMPACT Low Country Luau raises funds that benefit educators throughout Jackson County.  Teachers are offered local training and given the opportunity to attend the Ron Clark Academy, and many have taken advantage of both. 

IMPACT recognizes one outstanding educator from the Jackson County School System and one from the Scottsboro School Systems.  These educators receive a $500 check.  The announcement of this year’s winners will be made at the luau on Friday.

  Several teachers shared how they and their students have benefited from training provided by IMPACT.  All expressed appreciation to IMPACT for providing these opportunities.

Lesa Millican, first grade teacher at Pisgah, attended the Ron Clark Academy with a grant from IMPACT.  “I have implemented some of the teaching and behavioral management strategies I observed there,” she said.  These include chants and movement in the classroom as well as positive reinforcement strategies.

“The Ron Clark Academy was a wonderful experience,” said Jessica Owens, first grade teacher at North Sand Mountain.

Regan Webb, Caldwell Elementary School reading coach, attended the Orton-Gillingham training which taught the OG methodology of teaching reading which is proven to help struggling readers.  “Being trained in OG has helped this year with the small groups that I teach,” she stated.  “It helps me provide a multi-sensory approach to learning how to read.  It has been amazing to see students at all levels be able to develop and improve their reading skills.”

Webb added that this training is also having a significant impact on the Scottsboro City School System.  IMPACT helped offset the cost of getting all city kindergarten and first grade teachers trained.  “We are already organizing our reading curriculum for kindergarten and first grade around the OG approach for reading instruction, so the benefits of this training will continue for many years to come.”

Marlene Neely, Section School reading coach, called the Ron Clark Academy a “life changing experience for me professionally as well as personally”.  She has happily shared what she learned with many of her fellow educators. “Appreciation just does not seem to be a big enough word for what they (IMPACT) did for me,” she added.

Shalyn Benson, Caldwell Elementary School counselor, stated, “OG is a multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics skills and is proven beneficial for all students and highly recommended for dyslexic students.  With the help from IMPACT, this training will give our students an advantage in learning to read for years to come.”

Reflecting on the Ron Clark Academy, Woodville second grade teacher Amy Frazier said, “I loved the experience! I was able to observe various classrooms and learn strategies on promoting creativity, innovation, wonder, joy, and passion for learning.  The experience renewed my passion for teaching.”

Deanna West, fifth grade teacher at Woodville, has attended several training sessions through IMPACT including Ron Clark Academy.  “Without the money raised from the luau, funding for these free professional development and scholarship opportunities would cease to exist.”  She added that she has been asked to lead a workshop this summer on National Board Certification.  “IMPACT is constantly seeking opportunities to help improve classroom teachers in order to benefit all students.”

 “The IMPACT Learning Center is an invaluable resource to local educators,” stated Chasta Breland, assistant principal at North Sand Mountain.  “As an administrator, IMPACT afforded me the opportunity to attend the Ron Clark Academy.  The experience has helped me to understand how I can support my teachers in their innovative endeavors.”

“IMPACT has been great to me!” stated Michelle Selvage, Collins Intermediate School sixth grade teacher. She attended the Ron Clark Academy and said this experience helped her to grow as an educator.  “I have been able to incorporate different strategies and techniques to benefit my students.”

This year Selvage requested and received assistance from IMPACT to help purchase the Breakout Edu kits for sixth grade.  “The kits have just arrived, and I am excited to see what the kids can do with this activity. This opportunity will help take my students to a different level of thinking and collaboration.  I am beyond thankful for IMPACT’s generosity to the school system and teachers.”

 “IMPACT has helped to shape my vision of having a classroom environment that fosters student engagement and collaborative learning,” said Ashley Wilks, North Sand Mountain third grade teacher. “My goal over the past few years has been to modify my instruction to better meet the needs of 21st Century learners and leave behind comfortable methods that no longer fit my students.  The opportunities provided by IMPACT have motivated and encouraged me to think outside the box.”

 “I am so thankful and appreciative of the support from the IMPACT Learning Center,” stated Brooke Smith, North Sand Mountain first grade teacher.  She added that the Ron Clark Academy experience has encouraged her to think out of the box and strive to maintain a rigorous and fun learning environment.  She called the OG training a “total game changer” and feels she now has the tools to help all of the learners in her classroom achieve their goals.

At Friday’s annual luau the school which has the highest percentage of their faculty in attendance will get a special surprise.  Educators are encouraged to come and support this annual event.  Tickets are on sale now for $60 and may be purchased at IMPACT.  You may call 256-218-2121 for additional information.  Get ready for some authentic cajun cooking, live music, and a silent auction. 

Make plans to be at the luau with the fun beginning in a beautiful location by the water at 7 p.m. at the Goose Pond Colony amphitheater.

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