For the last couple of months, we have been highlighting Impact Grant winners and how they're spending their grant money. This month, we're going to cover Hailey Burden and Elizabeth Gama, of Arnold Mill Elementary and April Popham of LR Tippens Education Center as they work hard to create a space where students can gain valuable life skills and develop a deeper passion for novel studies. 

Developing a Love for Novel Studies 

Ms. April Popham recognizes the importance of quality literature. Though reading and writing sometimes seem to be a lost art form, she is determined to give her high school students the tools they need to develop a true love for literature. Though the goal is to choose books that will engage and interest her students, there are so many other important lessons that will be gained from these novels. Their imaginations will take off, their vocabularies will expand, and their writing abilities will improve drastically – just by immersing themselves in literature. 

With her grant money, Ms. Popham will purchase the needed novels for high school students. As they work through these novels, students will set goals and assignments will be made to help them reach those goals. The hope is that with this increased emphasis on reading and writing, students will do better on the Literature Composition portions of testing. 

Investing in Life Skills for Students with Atypical Abilities 

Those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face many challenges that others may not struggle with. These challenges can often be overcome when given special attention, and that is exactly what Hailey Burden and Elizabeth Gama plan to do. There has been extensive research that has shown how those with ASD can benefit from exercises that target activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). With the grant money that Ms. Burden received, they will be creating stations tailored to specific students to help with activities such as washing dishes (getting used to the feeling of soap on hands), making a bed, picking out clothes, clearing a dining room table, cleaning the home, sorting food, shopping, and more! 

All of these skills are vital to daily life and there is proof that investing in these activities can help those with disabilities develop autonomy and eventually get to a place where they don't need one-on-one help or assistance from a community. This is an incredible project and one that we were thrilled to see come to fruition. Check out all of these awesome photos of the home supplies they were able to purchase! 


Both novel studies and developing life skills are so important. Ms. Popham and Ms. Burden went above and beyond to make sure their students have everything they need to succeed. Not just now, but through all parts of their lives. These teachers truly make a lifelong difference and we're so thankful for all they do at Arnold Mill Elementary and LR Tippens. Congratulations, Ms. Popham and Ms. Burden!