TUCKERMAN, AR (KAIT) – The Jackson County School District welcomed the family of Minnie Sharp to campus Tuesday morning. The district dedicated a new greenhouse in her honor after Sharp left a sizable donation in her will to Tuckerman High School.
"It's great for the kids here that it gives them opportunities that they might not have had, and to know how pleased she would be because she would be thrilled to death to see this," said Jeanette Pope, Sharp's niece.
The greenhouse cost the district about $100,000 to construct. The district got a grant from the state department of education to offset much of the cost, but Sharp's generosity made the project possible. She gave the school $25,000 when she died in 2009. Sharp graduated from Tuckerman High School in 1937. Her parents sent her across the Black River by ferry to finish her education in Tuckerman, living in a boarding house until graduation.
"I believe at the time, where they lived at Cord, that high school didn't go all the way to 12th grade," Pope said.
The lifelong Tuckerman Bulldog was also an avid gardener. Sharp's gift contributed nicely with the school's effort to get a greenhouse built. "I was just astounded," said Bill Caldwell, agriculture instructor. "How often do things just fall into your lap?"
Caldwell had worked two years to get the project off the ground. The climate-controlled facility was completed several months, and he and his students have already planted soybeans and tomatoes. He says the greenhouse will cultivate learning – thanks, in part, to one alumnus with a green thumb and a giving heart.
"This program is going to enable students on a very small plot of land to learn how to operate a greenhouse effectively, (and) also open some doors to other careers for them," Caldwell said. "The career opportunities are huge."
Caldwell will soon have grow lights and a drip irrigation system installed to finish off the project.