Representatives from the Anniston City Schools System and other educational partners in the community gathered at Anniston Middle School in Anniston, Ala., on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, to receive a $200,000 technology grant from the Anniston Civil Justice Fund. The grant will improve classroom technology and continue to move forward with the implementation of a 21st-century classroom for all students within the school system.
The Anniston Civil Justice Fund was established in 2003 after four plaintiff law firms – Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.; Shelby Roden; Chochran, Cherry, Given & Smith; and Norris & Davis / Burr Forman – successfully negotiated a settlement with Monsanto Co. and Solutia, Inc. The companies operated a plant that polluted groundwater in Anniston, Ala., with PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls, labeled as a probably human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1977. It is estimated more than 20,000 people in the Anniston area were affected.
The law firms involved in the Tolbert v. Solutia settlement each contributed $250,000 to create a $1 million fund at the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation to improve educational opportunities for the children of Anniston. To date, approximately $678,000 has been put into Anniston educational programs.
Students in the Anniston City Schools System are already seeing results from the $200,000 technology grant. During the summer, schools were upgraded with fiber optics, high speed internet access, smart boards and projectors in the classrooms. The improvements enhance connectivity and increase bandwidth, allowing for projects including distance learning, where students at one school can view real-time lessons in other school facilities and classrooms.
“The work that is being done through this grant is already bringing about changes in our system that I could never have imagined,” said Joan Frazier, Anniston City Schools Superintendent. “Other than learning to read, I consider it of paramount importance that students in the Anniston City School System be immersed in technology – both in application and in the continuous quest for knowledge.”
Representatives from three of the four firms that established the Anniston Civil Justice Fund attended the event, including J. Parker Miller from Beasley Allen; Bob Roden from Shelby Roden; and Bernard and David Nomberg from The Cochran Firm. Frank Davis and John Norris of the Norris & Davis firm were unable to attend.
“At Beasley Allen, we have a mission statement – ‘Helping Those Who Need it Most,'” said Miller. “That applies not just to our clients, but also to people in communities like this one. This grant will make a significant difference in improving the opportunities for students in this community, and giving them the skills that will help ensure their success going forward, as the workforce of tomorrow.”
For more information about the Anniston Civil Justice Fund or the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation, visit www.acjf.org.