Editor's note: This is part two of a two-part series. Greene Education Services used grant funding to help Greene County schools work together to prepare for upcoming changes in curriculum. This is the first of two stories about the GES.
Greene Education Services has become a forum for educational growth in Greene County.
The non-profit organization began in 2002 when Greene County was awarded a $4.6 million CAPE grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.
The organization began as the Greene County Grant and Professional Consortium under the CAPE grant, which focused on bringing social workers and counselors into the school settings.
Sophie Haywood, who now serves as the Greene Education Services (GES) executive director, said the grant also focused on absenteeism.
GES began focusing on grants to find funding for services to support students and local schools.
Through the funding opportunities, Project Lead the Way was implemented into Greene County schools, which focuses on future careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In 2008, GES acquired the first round of the Greene Math Advancement Partnership Project (MAPP) grant, and implemented the use of a math coach in county schools. Indiana University Associate Professor of Mathematics Education Enrique Galindo and other professionals began working with teachers in the classroom.
GES received a second round of grant funding in 2010 -- MAPP-2 grant -- and has continued to expand its services in the classrooms.
Haywood explained when GES received the first grant in 2008, county superintendents were just meeting together for the first time. Since then, the schools meet each month and meet county-wide every other month.
"Relationships in education are the key to any change," Haywood stressed.
Greene MAPP-2 Math Coach Jennifer Lee said the program has become an excellent resource among the schools in the county.
There are currently 63 members involved in the MAPP program, including teachers and administrators from each school.
"In Bloomfield, for example, (Assistant High School Principal) Stella Royal and (High School Principal) David Dean have been a part of the grant since the beginning, along with the seventh through 12th grade educators," Haywood noted. "Stella has even been known to go in and co-teach. The administrators are getting excited."
Lee said the MAPP grant allows teachers to work together to create projects for their students, and often times sees educators share their own ideas.
"I'll be included in an email where a teacher at one county school will send out information saying, 'This worked for my students, you should try it, too.' That's exciting," Lee said.
While the schools are working together closely academically, a little friendly competition in sports is definitely encouraged, Haywood noted with a laugh.
Haywood said other communities have been surprised at how well the schools are communicating and working together.
"Even the mayor of Bedford pulled me aside and asked me how I was doing it," Haywood said.
Lee and Haywood agreed the success of the program is possible because of the enthusiasm among the teachers, and their dedication to creating the best possible learning experience for their students.
"We (GES) just provide the resources and the tools and the opportunities for relationships. The teachers have worked so hard, and the schools are doing a phenomenal job," Haywood added.
Lee added she has had several people ask her if the hardest changes to make were with the long-time educators, but noted these teachers were the most enthusiastic to change in order to help the students.
She said Cindy Thorlton, who is set to retire in 2015, has been one of the most excited teachers about the project and worked very hard to learn new things.
"Her husband, Dan Thorlton from Linton, has joined in the program because of her excitement," Lee noted.
Haywood added, "I think that speaks very well of the type of educators we have."
In addition to implementing new strategies in the classroom, the teachers also are required to have 80 hours of professional development, meet every month for two hours and work on team projects within their school for three hours a month.