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In 2015, when Kristina Pollard took over as principal at Earl Travillion Attendance Center in Forrest County Mississippi, she was well aware of the challenge she was facing.

“It is an extremely high poverty area. My school has consistently been a low performing school,” said Pollard. “Economic status is pretty desolate, so we needed to do something outside of the box in order to make some significant changes in this area.”

Pollard says she spent the first couple of years focused on changing the culture of Earl Travillion and they also expanded tutoring and summer programs, but the tutoring wasn’t making the impact that they needed.

So Pollard began thinking bigger. She wanted to extend the school day. Pollard knew that by adding two hours of school three days a week, they could address the whole child. Pollard believed they could provide extra time for remediation and enrichment. Plus, they could offer a safe location for children in the afternoons and give students an additional meal.

It was a weekend, and Pollard had just read about a federally funded school improvement grant. She thought the grant may be a way to fund the extra hours.

She so excited about the idea, she called her Superintendent, Brian Freeman, on the weekend to see if he would support her with her application.

“I called him on a Saturday morning and I said, Mr. Freeman, this a huge opportunity, I’d like to try,” said Pollard.

Freeman gave Pollard the backing and resources she needed.

Pollard says her application for the grant ended up being over 200 pages and Earl Travillion was ultimately awarded 2.1 million dollars.

But the challenge was just beginning. Pollard needed to calculate logistics with transportation, and she needed to convince her teachers to work six extra hours each week.

To hear how Pollard pulled it off, listen to Episode 59 of the Class Dismissed Podcast on your favorite podcast app or iTunes.

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