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MeeF Announce 2024 Buntin Scholars - Impacting High Poverty Schools

The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation (MEEF) announced today at Dimon Magnet Academy, the eagerly anticipated launch of the Buntin Scholars' next chapter. After a four-year wait due to Covid-19 related delays, five distinguished teachers from the Muscogee County School District (MCSD) — committed to educating in high-poverty schools — will be attending the Innovative Schools Summit in Las Vegas this summer. 
Originally slated as part of the Harvard Fellows program, the Buntin Scholars program has adapted to the shifting educational landscape. The program was created to specifically impact students who live in poverty by providing the same type of Harvard-quality experience to teachers from high-poverty schools who do not currently have a Harvard Fellow on their teaching staff. MEEF worked with MCSD to establish the process of identifying the schools and then nominating teachers to apply to the program. After much research, the Innovative Schools Summit was chosen to give these teachers evidence-based programs and strategies that educators can use to help students experience more success in school.
In 2020, a local group of community leaders and philanthropists, informally known for their weekly luncheons, generously donated $56,000 to establish the program, named in honor of Dr. Jim Buntin, a former MCSD Superintendent and one of MEEF’s founders. Their contribution has proven to be a cornerstone for educational enrichment and teacher empowerment within the community.
"Highly-qualified, dedicated — teachers, especially in high-poverty schools — are instrumental in mitigating the adversities their students face. This program," explains Marquette McKnight, Executive Director of MEEF, "is a testament to our belief in the power of dedicated educators. Their upcoming experience at the Innovative Schools Summit is tailored to equip them with skills and insights to help their students, thereby maximizing their impact on the students' academic and personal growth."
2024 Buntin Scholars
Brent Sutherland - Dimon Magnet Academy
Michelle Shafer - Lonnie Elementary Jackson Academy 
Carla Jones - Kendrick High
Heidi Holley - South Columbus Elementary
Lola Farley - Kendrick High
Superintendent Dr. David Lewis emphasized the strategic selection of participants: "The Buntin Scholars are teachers with extraordinary potential. Our rigorous selection process ensures these educators are not only ready to absorb new knowledge but also poised to become teacher leaders in MCSD"
The investment by the group of community leaders continues to resonate through MEEF’s efforts. Josh Reynolds, MEEF Board Chair, expressed profound gratitude for their generosity. "This gift is transformative, allowing us to enhance our commitment to excellence in teaching, and recognizing and rewarding exceptional teachers. We're immensely thankful for this support that enables us to extend our mission in such impactful ways. When the Buntin Scholars return, they will continue to work with the Harvard Fellows, maximizing their efforts by teaching their colleagues and utilizing their skills and strategies to enhance the learning experience for all students."