Grant will allow Cherokee Elementary to revitalize its courtyard

Muskogee’s Cherokee Elementary has been awarded a $2,000 grant that will fund sensory paths for its students and revive the school’s courtyard.

The grant is from the Oklahoma Aspiring Educators Association, the student division of the Oklahoma Education Association. OAEA is comprised of college students majoring in education and planning to enter the teaching profession.

Each spring, through its Outreach to Teach program, OAEA members spend one day giving a deserving public school a makeover by painting murals in school hallways, decorating teacher lounges, and landscaping around the building.

Because of ongoing restrictions associated with the pandemic, OAEA could not hold its traditional school makeover in person. Instead, the group sought nominations from its local affiliates around the state. Muskogee Education Association President Sharica Cole nominated Cherokee Elementary, which was chosen as the grant’s winner based on a detailed rubric.

“Our members look forward to Outreach to Teach every year, but unfortunately we couldn’t be in person at Cherokee this spring,” said Elizabeth Shadid, OAEA president and a junior elementary education major at the University of Central Oklahoma. “At the same time, we very excited to fulfill Cherokee’s vision of enhancing the education experience of its students with this grant.”

The school plans to use the funds to purchase bird feeders, buddy benches, flowers and paving stones to give new life to the courtyard. Using colorful and interesting decals, they will build three or four pathways in shorter hallways to give students a “brain break,” giving “small and large motor skills an opportunity to engage in balance and spatial awareness exercises,” according to Cherokee’s application.

Shadid said Cherokee was chosen over five other schools that submitted applications for the grant.

Information: Kim Littrell, OEA’s student program coordinator, at

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