Running for education

Published 6:52 pm Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jacksonville woman runs 10k in Shelby County for Strides for Schools campaign

BY KATIE COLE/Lifestyles Editor

There’s no shortage of early-morning runners in Shelby County.

But on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 2, one woman jogged the streets of Columbiana on a mission.

Her name was Lori Tippets and she visited Shelby County last week for her Strides for Schools campaign. Tippets, a 56-year-old mother of eight and Jacksonville School Board member, ran a 10k in 30 cities across Alabama this summer to raise awareness about continuing cuts to the state’s education system and encourage communities to support their local public schools.

“My first run was June 7 and that was at Calhoun County Board of Education,” she said. “From there, I’ve just gone everywhere.”

Tippets set out from the central office in Columbiana at 7 a.m. She jogged past the courthouse and wound through neighborhoods to reach 6.2 miles.

“I thought (Columbiana) was great,” she said. “I think that’s been a great perk about this whole thing. I’ve seen cities I never would have seen before.”

Strides for Schools was born out of Tippets’ frustration at watching public schools face unprecedented challenges, including budget cuts and a perpetually sluggish economy, over the last three years.

Tippets, whose youngest son will be a high school junior this year, has watched as his school cut driver’s education, all foreign languages except for Spanish and art classes.

“He does not have the same opportunities that his brothers and sisters had,” she said.

She said the 11 years she has served as a school board member have been “great,” but she finally felt like she had to act this spring. At a conference she attended in May, a speaker stressed that the most effective form of government is at the local level.

“I truly believe that,” she said. “I truly think that we need to stand up as a local community.”

Tippets said she’s had a positive response to her campaign, which ended in Montgomery on Aug. 3.

“I’ve had people stop me and say they weren’t aware that programs are being cut due to inadequate funding.”

With school starting back this month, Tippets has hung up running shoes and is ready to get back to work.