Chestnut to receive award

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 26, 2004

It’s not everyday a Selmian receives a national award. Tonya S. Chestnut is April 1, no fooling.

Chestnut, the federal programs coordinator with the Dallas County School System, will travel to Washington D.C. next month to receive a national leadership award.

The Alabama Association of Federal Education Programs recommends two people for the national award each year. She discovered she was the choice as she took the minutes for the organization at its November meeting.

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Chestnut has served as federal programs coordinator for the past nine years. In addition to ensuring federal guidelines are maintained, she’s also worked as a mentor for new federal coordinators and been on several boards. &uot;Usually, you’re the only person in the system in that position,&uot; Chestnut said. &uot;This allows networking.&uot;

Daily duties include coordinating federal programs, ensuring federal dollars get to the proper schools and is used as dictated by the No Child Left Behind Act. &uot;I make sure that what we say we’re going to do, we actually do it,&uot; Chestnut said. &uot;You have the take the phrase ‘no child left behind’ literally. We have to make sure our children are making adequate progress.&uot;

Chestnut achieves that by purchasing materials proven to work. &uot;I like my job,&uot; she said. &uot;The greatest challenge is to stay abreast of all the new and changing laws.&uot;

Chestnut has been in education for 20 years and lived in a number of cities in Alabama as well as Las Vegas. Her career began with the Selma City School System, where she stayed for five years. It then took her to Montgomery for six years. After a year in Las Vegas, Chestnut returned to Selma. &uot;I like living in Selma,&uot; she said. &uot;I’m glad I got the chance to leave and see the positives in other places, see the trends and learn what to do and not to do. It’s been an advantage for me.&uot;

Chestnut’s position lets her provide children with opportunities they wouldn’t have without federal funds. &uot;I attribute our success with hard-working people working in our schools that are committed to our children,&uot; Chestnut said. &uot;As far as the future, the sky’s the limit.&uot;

Chestnut is married to Coley Chestnut. They have three children &045; Tamela, 17, Coleysia, 13, and Coley II, 10.