Alumni provide feeding program at namesake school

Published 9:36 pm Friday, October 14, 2016

Alumni of the Georgie Tyler School are assisting an Isle of Wight County school also named after Tyler with a feeding program.

Members of the school’s 1969 graduating class decided to “do it based on its namesake,” said Carla Duck, a member of Chapel Grove United Church of Christ, which originally started the program.

“The Georgie Tyler School alumni was very excited to sponsor this,” said Jessica Harding, principal at Georgie D. Tyler Middle School. “The school is very near and dear to their hearts. Anytime we need help, they are willing to do it.”

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Tyler, an Isle of Wight County native, was an advocate for improving local schools for African-American students. She also served as a teacher and the Jeanes Supervisor for the county, through a program sponsored by Philadelphia philanthropist Anna T. Jeanes to provide funding for black education in the South.

The original school, which was segregated, was built between 1950 and 1951 in her honor.

Several members of the Chapel Grove United Church of Christ were former students at Georgie Tyler, which further encouraged the church to start up the project.

“We need transformational love, and we can’t do that sitting in the four walls of the church,” said H. Carlyle Church, the church pastor.

The Back Pack Feed program provides nutritious meals for students from needy families over the weekend. The initiative is free of charge, and families simply have to sign up to participate.

Harding said the program has fulfilled a major need.

“A lot of schools in the county face this problem,” she said. “It’s a situation we wanted to address.”

The program began toward the end of the previous school year, according to Duck.

To date, the program “has been very successful,” Harding said.

However, Church believes there is a stigma with the program.

“Some families don’t want people to know they’re struggling,” he said. “We’re hoping to break that stigma.”

In the near future, Church said the church hopes to also address the students’ social and medical needs.

Harding “hopes to continue the program for years to come.”