Education Foundation grant helps teacher share ukulele with students

By BUSTER WOLFE,

For music teacher Joanna King, the time she spends listening to her class of Purvis Upper Elementary School third-graders strum their ukuleles is music to her ears.

With funding from a Lamar County Education Foundation grant, King is able to supply her classroom with ukuleles and Ukulele Chord Changers to teach them to play popular songs. One particular class was spent learning “Take Me out to the Ballgame.”

King said she got help from another Lamar County teacher for the inspiration.

“I talked with Chad Watson, who is the music teacher at Oak Grove Upper Elementary School,” she said. “He is teaching guitar with the Chord Buddy system and ukuleles with the Ukulele Chord Changers. He has more room than I do.”

By purchasing the ukuleles in classroom packs, King was able to get the instruments at a more economical price. The LCEF grants could be used for the ukuleles because of their durability and the number of students that are reached.

King said she wants the students to have opportunities that weren’t available to her.

“One of my goals is to give kids experiences I didn’t have in school,” she said. “I went to Oak Grove, and I didn’t have an elementary music program. Someone’s mother would come play a tape player in the cafeteria every now and then and teach us a few songs.”

The idea of playing instruments in the younger grades was unheard of, King said.

“I never got to be in any musical productions in the elementary years,” she said. “I wish I could have had access to these instruments and technology back then.”

King said younger students are pretty much equal in elementary school.

“At its simplest, I hope I’m teaching children about art and beauty,” she said. “But my highest goal is to help someone find their purpose. Not everyone is a star athlete. Not everyone is a scholar.

“Maybe a kid who doesn’t fit the typical mold might find his or her way to college by way of a music scholarship. Maybe they might be the first in their family to do so. Maybe they might break a generational cycle of poverty. It’s more than just playing ukuleles. I hope people see that.”

The Lamar County Education Foundation is dedicated to supporting and enhancing quality educational programs in the Lamar County School District. Giving to the LCEF supports the education of those students. All donations are given directly to the classroom through Teacher Grants, which are awarded through teacher submission from their most basic to their most innovative needs.

Anyone wanting more information about the LCEF can call (601) 794-1030 to be directed to an LCEF Board Member.