After years of cuts to school funding, Myers Elementary finally has a little walking around money.
School officials learned this week that they were among an elite group of schools in the country to receive a $100,000 grant from the Target corporation.
Myers was the only school in Georgia and one of 50 in the country to receive the grant, called a Target "Do Good" grant, this week.
School leaders have the leeway to decide what they'll do with the money when it comes, but principal Beth Hudgins said they still haven't decided how to spend it.
"It's still taking our breath away a little bit," said Hudgins.
The breathlessness is partly due to the fact that school leaders thought they were not going to get the grant and frankly weren't sure that they had correctly applied for it.
School volunteer Robbie McCormac had taken the initiative to apply for it when she heard about it in late November.
McCormac applied, she said, because she thought the school deserved it. She had a hard time specifying one particular part of the school's staff that deserved the award.
"Here on campus, I could see the different ways that the staff interacted..." she said. "They didn't know I was specifically observing them, but there were things that I sort of kept in the back of my mind about how I just felt like everybody was doing the most that they could to make these children succeed."
McCormac has been volunteering at Myers for some seven or eight years. She drives 25 miles to volunteer at the school though she's never had any children go there — and never will.
"I wouldn't do it if there wasn't a reason for me to be here," she said.
When McCormac clicked "submit," the screen went blank, Hudgins said, and no one ever knew if they'd even applied correctly.
Needless to say, when the word came that Myers was one of 50 schools in the country awarded the grant, there was a splendid mix of shock and excitement.
No one knew exactly what to do.
"Everything is so brand new," said McCormac. "Literally, we're talking about hours since finding out about this kind of thing and needless to say nothing has been decided."
And Hudgins and McCormac say nothing will be decided until everyone — from teachers to parents to students — have input on how the money could be best used to improve the school.
Hudgins does know, however, that it will likely revolve around reading. A number of the school's students are newcomers to Georgia, knowing little to no English.
But to succeed in math, social studies or any other subject, the children will need to know how to read, Hudgins said. The school has a goal of getting 90 percent of its students reading at what is considered their grade level by the third grade.
It's also a goal Gov. Nathan Deal laid out in his State of the State address this year for all schools.
Myers is "not there yet," but Hudgins said the school is making tremendous progress.
"In everything we do around here, our first priority is to make sure our kids can read on grade level," Hudgins said. "Everything begins there and branches out."
Myers is a Title 1 school, meaning it receives special federal funding due to the high proportion of students on a free or reduced-lunch program.
And for McCormac, that means that there's really nothing the money couldn't be spent on that wouldn't be important.
"It's not a secret that it's very hard to run a school these days, no matter where you are," said McCormac. "Because (the grant) is unrestricted it allows us to dream and possibly look toward the things that were unreachable because of the cost and now see that as being a reality."