Return to Headlines

Petal School District Educators Awarded Classroom Grants from MPE

October 28, 2021

PETAL, Miss. – Two Petal School District (PSD) educators have been awarded classroom grants from the Mississippi Professional Educators (MPE), a statewide professional association founded in 1979 with approximately 13,500 teachers, administrators, and non-certified staff from kindergarten to graduate school level.

Tracy Bowman, a third and fourth grade music teacher at Petal Elementary School, has been a member of MPE since 2013. She plans to use her grant funding for a project entitled “Recorder Karate!”

“I have been awarded $1,000 to purchase 350 recorder instruments and supplies for each fourth grader at Petal Elementary School. My plan is to integrate, through music, the fourth-grade science competency instructing students to investigate and draw conclusions about the relationship between the rate of vibrating objects and the pitch of the sound, while learning to play the recorder,” said Bowman. “Extra-curricular activities, such as music education, can serve as an excellent source of instruction and integration into the general education program. This instrument will be taught over a nine-week period of study during music class, and the students will perform in an ensemble concert at the end of the unit in February,” Bowman said.

Natalie Sumrall, an 11th grade English teacher at Petal High School and member of MPE since 2020, plans to use her $1,000 grant funding for a project entitled “Cultural Diversity in Nonfiction Reading List Selections.” This project will foster an appreciation for cultural diversity by providing nonfiction books from authors of a diverse background and with different lived experiences.

“The MPE classroom grant enabled me to order more than 70 culturally diverse and contemporary nonfiction books for my students. It means so much to me that I am able to give them more options in their independent reading projects, and it means so much to them that they can check these books out from the classroom,” said Sumrall.

“Our educators go above and beyond, and we appreciate the grants received from MPE to give them the extra support needed to provide a more enriching experience for our students,” said Dr. Matt Dillon, PSD superintendent of schools.

MPE awards up to $40,000 in classroom grants to MPE members who wish to enhance instructional offerings or educational experiences for their students. For more information on MPE’s classroom grant program and other benefits, please visit

# # #

Tracy Bowman, Petal Elementary School

Natalie Sumrall, Petal High School