Persistence Pays Off

Monday, September 12, 2011 - 2:38pm

Teachers work tirelessly to win garden grant for their tiny alternative school.

One teacher's determination is changing the way hundreds of students learn.

An idea that started as a seed in the mind of teacher Amanda Breece grew into a grant application for a rain garden at Gallatin, Tennessee's R.T. Fisher Alternative School.

It took Breece and fellow teacher Sandy Milton months to get the grant together.

When they started the process, even principal Bob Cotter thought it was a long shot.

"They said, ‘Hey, we want to apply for this.' And I told them, ‘This is a big grant. It's going to take a lot of work just to apply for it,'" said Cotter.

The school applied for the competitive grant and got it.

"I gave Mr. Cotter some knuckle bumps, and I ran down the hallway and Sandy Milton that we got the grant, and we were screaming!" said Breece.

"They came running up to me and said, ‘You're not going to believe it. We won it!' and to be honest I was surprised," said Cotter.

R.T. Fisher is a small school and could never afford the garden on their own.

Breece and Milton knew they had to fight for the $10,000 to show the students they may make bad decisions but they aren't bad people.

"These kids are just here because they have made one or two bad choices, and we want them to have every opportunity to do things here. We want them to have every opportunity to participate in things they would do at a regular school," said Milton.

"In past science classes that I've had as a student, all we'd be doing is just kind of learning about this kind of stuff and it would kind of bore me, but now we get to do this kind of stuff and it's kind of fun," said student Brett Farmer.

"RT's actually bringing more effort into doing more activities than normal schools would," said John Webb.

"It's a lot more fun than sitting in a classroom and reading out of a book," said student Randy Rehnstrom.

What started as a seed will help hundreds of students grow.

Many schools applied for the grant, but R.T. Fisher Alternative School is the only one in the state to receive the funding.

The students will begin constructing the rain garden in October.

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