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Lauderdale gets $20,000 for arts
By Lisa Singleton-Rickman -
Matt McKean/TimesDaily
Joshua Holt, a sixth grader at Brooks Elementary School, plays his dulcimer. The district recently received a $20,000 grant to buy supplies for art and music programs.

Brooks Elementary School music teacher Debbie Seay won’t be missing her nearly two-decades-old keyboard that has seen better days.

Soon she’ll have a brand new one, thanks to state legislative grants awarded to the Lauderdale County school system’s music and art programs.

Jennifer Gray, the system’s federal programs coordinator and superintendent-elect, said it’s costly to keep the programs going. Salaries must be funded with locally generated money. Still, she said, the programs are important and funding resourcefulness has been a necessity through the years.

“I wrote a letter to our state representatives (Greg Burdine, D-Florence, and Lynn Green, R-Rogersville) asking each for $10,000 to help sustain our music and art programs in our elementary schools,” Gray said. “We got the full $20,000 and that money is already being put to good use.”

The Lauderdale school district is the largest in the Shoals, with approximately 8,000 students. It has three traveling music teachers and one full-time teacher located at Brooks Elementary. In addition, there are two art teachers who travel from school to school.

“This money will be used for purchasing supplies they need and will help the programs replenish what they (need),” Gray said. “It will be divided among the schools.”

Seay said the money couldn’t have come at a better time. It will be used to not only replace a worn keyboard, but will also allow her to purchase more instruments.

“These are very costly items that we couldn’t possible buy without grants,” Seay said. “We have a wonderful PTO that helps us tremendously, but they can’t do it all. I appreciate this money.”

Items such as DVDs about famous artists, drying racks and other art supplies will be purchased as well. Gray said items are being ordered to arrive in time for next semester.

“Every student is affected by at least one of these programs,” Gray said. “We know the value of the arts in our schools and we’re committed to keeping them in place.”

Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or

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