Tippets steps foot in Clanton for education

Lori Tippets and Superintendent Dave Hayden after Tippets ran 7.4 miles through Clanton to raise awareness about the lack of funding for the state’s education system.

Lori Tippets of Jacksonville has left her footprint in Clanton and 21 other counties in the state as she continues “going the distance for Alabama’s education.”

Tippets, who has served on Jacksonville City’s Board of Education for 11 years and six of those years as the board’s president, arrived at the Chilton County Board of Education at 8 a.m. Friday after completing a 7.4-mile run through Clanton.

Tippets said her purpose is to raise awareness about the lack of funding for the state’s education system.

Running 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) at a time, Tippets is on a 30-city expedition for education, making Clanton the 22nd city with eight more to go.

One of her daughters came up with her slogan, “Strides for Schools — Going the distance for Alabama’s education.”

The mother of eight children has 14 grandchildren. She is also a sports writer/photographer for the Jacksonville News.

Tippets will end her journey Wednesday, Aug. 3 in Montgomery.

“I feel like we have the best teachers and administrators in Alabama, and it hurts to see how teachers have to pay for their own supplies out of their pockets,” said Tippets. “There are programs they want to implement but can’t because they can’t pay for it.”

Tippets, who has been an avid runner and is used to running three to five miles a day, said pushing herself to run 6.2 is her “going the distance for education.”

Tippets took a short break from running for several years to raise her family but started back in March 2010, placing among the top three in several marathons.

After speaking about additional cuts that would have to be made at a Jacksonville City Board of Education meeting in May, Tippets thought, “Enough — something has to be done about this.” she said. That’s when she began to run for the cause in Calhoun County.

Tippets said her youngest child “doesn’t have the same opportunities as his older siblings did.”

She said they’ve had to do away with all languages except Spanish and there are no choir or art programs.

“Students deserve to have a quality education,” Tippets said.

Tippets’ trek through Clanton began at the Chilton County Board of Education and continued to the Peach Water Tower and onto County Road 77. She concluded back at the central office where she met Superintendent Dave Hayden.

“I gave you extra,” said Tippets to Hayden in reference to her running 7.4 miles instead of her usual 6.2.

“Here we get a lot of calls about nurses being cut — I wish you the best of luck,” said Hayden to Tippets. “I think it’s good to bring awareness to our schools and funding. It’s a good thing. We’re in a financial crunch and any help is good help.”

“Not everyone can run six miles,” said Hayden. “That’s her talent, she can do it, then I’m grateful for her.”

After taking the weekend off, Tippets will resume Monday traveling to Greenville to continue her journey.

“I just want local communities to stand up and say we want education as top priority,” Tippets said.

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