JCPS awards $16K in grants to innovative students and teachers

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Johnston County Public Schools students and teachers are putting $16,000 in grant money that was awarded this month to use in innovative practices in their classrooms and schools.

The JCPS department of Academic Innovation funded the grants from within their budget. The department awarded $500 grants to 32 students and teachers who submitted proposals detailing why they needed the funds to be innovative.

“The idea for the grants came from us attending a national conference. We wanted to present grants to students and teachers who had innovative ideas that could improve their community or school then present them with money to bring it to reality,” said Amy Stanley, JCPS director of Digital Innovation.

This is the first year that JCPS has offered this type of grant to its students. Proposals from students ranged from wanting money to buy drones to simulate how bees pollinate flowers to new audio/visual equipment to improve a school’s news broadcast.

“My team and I wrote the proposal because we wanted our broadcast to be better,” said Clayton Middle student Makayla Brock. “We want to leave a legacy here, and for us to do so we need to create a quality product.”

Before receiving the grant money, students used their mentor’s smartphone to record their broadcast. With the awarded funds they plan to buy a camera, a microphone, and other materials to enhance their newscast.

“What’s exciting about seeing Makayla receive this grant is that I saw her last year in English Language Arts and how she has grown as a writer,” said Principal Catherine Trudell. “Now she has used those argumentative skills to receive this award and not only help out her classmates but also leave behind a legacy.”

Dixon Road Elementary student Mason Tingen was awarded one of the JCPS Student Innovator grants. Mason’s grant focused on a topic that has also been an issue addressed on the national level — finding a way to artificially pollinate plants because there is a decline in bee populations.

“I want to continue to have flowers and fruits where we live, so we need to find a way to help the bees do their job,” said Mason. “My mom and I talked about how we could help them and we thought we could pretend to be bees and use drones to help carry the pollen around.”

Mason plans on working with his teachers and other first-grade students to utilize the engineering cycle to develop and test his ideas.

Jordan Rose, a student at Princeton Middle/High School, received one of the $500 Student Innovator grants. Jordan plans to purchase school supplies and make them readily available for students and teachers in need.

Innovative ideas behind the teacher’s grants ranged from creating flexible learning environments in the classroom to purchasing STEM supplies for students.

Area teachers awarded grants and their proposals included:

  • Julie Della Rose/Elizabeth Parker, Four Oaks Elementary, creating first grade playlists for engaging students in a personalized learning process.
  • Glenna Moore, Meadow School, promoting kindness by having students create a reward system for the school.
  • Colleen Bonner, West Johnston High, creating a flexible learning environment more conducive to collaboration through PBL in her classroom.

    Area students awarded grants and their proposals included:

  • Mason Tingen, Dixon Road Elementary, drones for garden simulation (What do bees see during pollination?)
  • Raiden Simmons, Four Oaks Middle, promoting social emotional health through the creation of a mindset/relaxation area in the media center
  • Courtney Creech, Four Oaks Middle, promoting social emotional health through the creation of a mindset/relaxation area in the media center
  • Jenna Massengill and Payton Braswell, Four Oaks Middle, Hands-On Learning: Working alongside the agriculture teacher, these students will create a school garden by creating raised plant beds in the school yard (taking learning outside the regular classroom walls)

    Ms. Stanley said she hopes with all the money that has been awarded it will encourage others to apply for grants in the future and be more innovative.

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