Coover Foundation

Junior High awarded grant for mental health awareness ‚Äč
Posted on 09/27/2022
Hilary Taylor and her SINGS class.

In a string of successful grants this year alone, gifted teacher Hilary Taylor has been awarded $3,870 through the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation toward mental health consultation for students and teachers at Poplar Bluff Junior High.

The Coover Charitable Foundation, in collaboration with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, announced in June a total of 21 recipients under its Rural School Partnership program, focusing on health and well-being, as identified as a top priority in a survey of area educators.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about mental health among the students and staff at Poplar Bluff Junior High, eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and promote a more positive attitude toward mental health and its importance,” Taylor wrote in her proposal entitled ‘A Community of Calm.’

Taylor said she plans to bring in mental health professionals for teachers during collaboration day, and to arrange for consultants to speak with students in groups or one-on-one during academic lab, on top of the school’s guidance counselors and FCC Behavioral Health partners already in place.

She originally had staff subscriptions to the Calm app listed in her write-up, but was since approved for a course correction for that portion of the budget. A similar guided meditation app, Headspace, has recently been made available for free to educators, and she wanted to ensure all colleagues can benefit. Any remaining funds will go toward purchasing items for the school’s Giving Closet to help ease stress, she suggested.

“By the time they hit Junior High age, students can be dealing with heavy, real-world, life-altering situations, and they don’t necessarily have a lot of tools in their tool belts to cope,” Taylor explained. “The idea is to bring in some experts to provide practical ways to reduce anxiety in their lives, and teach conflict resolution strategies.”

Named the district’s 2022 Middle School Grade-Span Teacher of the Year, Taylor estimates that she has acquired $35,000 in grant funding over the past several years. The grant world opened up to her when she previously taught elementary at Oak Grove and landed her first award later renewed through the Pets in the Classroom program.

When she transferred to Junior High in 2017, she began taking on various electives in addition to SINGS (serving the individual needs of gifted students) including robotics, drama, game design and credit recovery. Of note, she has secured curriculum materials and equipment through the Poplar Bluff School Foundation and Missouri Retired Teachers Foundation; professional development through the National Education Association Foundation; subscriptions to MasterClass; and free STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) kits through a membership to Civil Air Patrol.

Taylor has both presented on grant writing during the PB Connect internal workshop, and attended the Grants 4 Schools seminar in St. Louis. She said she seeks opportunities through organizations like the CFO, and finds out if entities are being funded in the region. Sometimes she misses the mark, she admitted, but her efforts have by and large paid off.

“Having Hilary Taylor on staff is such a great asset to the students across the building because she is so resourceful about finding creative ways to fund equipment and projects for the many different courses she teaches for us,” said Candace Warren, Junior High principal. “She is always looking for ways to improve our programs and facilities, and she’s just a champion for bringing in new things to Junior High that we couldn’t otherwise buy ourselves with her knowledge and expertise of writing grants.”


Cutline: Holding her grant-funded classroom pet rabbit, PBJHS teacher Hilary Taylor and her SINGS students stand in front of a representation of STEM materials she has acquired through a Civil Air Patrol membership, as well as a Glowforge financed in part by the Poplar Bluff School Foundation.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.