HATTIESBURG, Miss. - “The goal is to get kids across the stage, on time in a cap and gown after their senior year – and to be productive successful productive people in our community,” said Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Public School District Foundation, Dan Kibodeaux.
Kibodeaux said the molding a firm foundation for local children essential for their success. “Because too many of our kids don’t have that foundation at home – like I did growing up, like you may have had growing up, but a lot of kids don’t always have that and you cant just take that for granted,"
The Foundation awards grants to a variety of Hattiesburg teachers to purchase necessary items for skill building or learning. “The grants program was designed, to provide the kind of supplemental materials in things in the classroom, that the district could not afford to buy. Somewhere I heard not too long ago that the average teacher spends $490 a year out of their own pocket. So every year we have a grant program that will give a teach $500 for something in their classroom that’s going to improve the academic content in their course work,”
Post Hurricane Katrina, things came together a little over 10 years ago, to create change for the better. “In the aftermath of all that, we have kept doing things like – we have a license plate program now. You can pay $31 you can get a specialty tag. Hattiesburg has one... It’s a way for an organization to do what the school district cannot do, even if they had the money. There are things like students scholarships, supplemental grants to teachers, early childhood activities, kindergarten readiness…”
He shared every year, the foundation gets better but there still a need to serve Hattiesburg children. “It’s a whole lot cheaper to educate kids, graduate them from high school, and turn them into productive tax payers than to house them in the county jail. It’s better on us, It’s better for them and at the end of the day they are our kids,”