Rock Island school receives $4.5 million in grant money

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After a long process of applying and waiting, a Quad City school was approved for the federally funded School Improvement Grant just in time for this school year. The grant is going to help one of the state's lowest performing schools.

It's a new year, with new students and a new attitude at Rock Island Academy.

"It's not so much yet teaching them differently, it's the teachers themselves looking at things differently," said kindergarten teacher, Anna Lorenz.

You can see the changes in Lorenz's class and you can hear it throughout the halls of Rock Island Academy.

"We do a lot of things like community building, school models, chants with the student to get them excited about being in here, but also to let them know they're a member of the team," said Principal, Tia Rice.

Last spring the school applied for the School Improvement Grant, or better known as the SIG Grant.  The grant is for the state's lowest performing schools. Rock Island Academy falls in the bottom five percent of the state.

"I think it's going to make us more focused. It gives us an opportunity to give our kids more, to make us better so that our kids can be as successful as everyone else is," said Lorenz.

The school got the news that they were approved. They'll receive $1.5 million a year for the next three years. That money will give more resources to the school, like hiring more staff for help. They've hired English Language Learner coaches since 25 percent of the student body doesn't speak English.

"I'm excited to see them in three years and see that they're reading above grade level," said Lorenz.

Teacher also spent their summer in workshops and will continue that through the year so they can improve on instruction. The grant will give the school the chance to show everyone else the potential that's inside their walls.

"All kids can succeed and we firmly believe with the support of... the SIG grant we're going to be able to prove that to everybody," said Lorenz.

Rock Island Academy also extended their school days by a half hour. Francis Willard Elementary in Rock Island was also approved for the grant. They will receive $1 million for the next three years.