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Gainesville State gets $100,855 from Wal-Mart
Grant targeted toward helping students in early childhood education
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Gainesville State College sophomore Munirah Pirani, left, a Gwinnett County resident, writes as she works in a group Wednesday during a science methods class as part of the early childhood education program. Wal-Mart presented Gainesville State College with $100,855 as part of its partnership to promote diversity in education. The grant will fund tuition and book scholarships for up to five students per semester. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

OAKWOOD — The Wal-Mart State Giving Foundation has made a $100,855 donation to Gainesville State College to create a Wal-Mart Scholars program for male and minority students seeking a degree in early childhood education.

The presentation was made Wednesday morning at the college with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Gainesville State alumnus, on hand for the ceremony.

Afterwards, Cagle said the donation was welcomed as the state faces economic challenges.

"Colleges like Gainesville State College have got to reach out into the corporate world to find additional help," Cagle said, calling Gainesville State a model of efficiency.

The grant is designed to build a more diverse faculty in public schools.

"We’ve recognized a need in our community for our students to see themselves reflected in the classroom," said Carly Womack-Lynn, an assistant professor of education who applied for the Wal-Mart grant. "Currently in Georgia, 80 percent of our certified teaching staff are middle-class Caucasian females."

Cal Phelps, a regional manager for Wal-Mart, made the presentation on behalf of the giant retailer.

"We work toward having a diverse workplace," Phelps said. "As a part of the community, we want to make certain we’re reflective of the community."

The grant provides for tuition and book scholarships for up to five students per semester.

In addition, the grant will be used to fund a recruiter who will focus on attracting high quality diverse applicants to the program.

College president Martha Nesbitt said she hopes that in addition to diversity, the program will help alleviate the state’s teacher shortage.

"Georgia is not producing enough teachers, period," Nesbitt said. "We will be producing more teachers and hopefully bring more diversity into the classroom leadership."

Early childhood education is one of the four-year degrees offered through Gainesville State.

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