Nineteen Fulton County schools have been awarded grant money for their efforts to shake up teaching and learning in the classroom.
The schools received $2.6 million in Seed Fund grants, which are managed by the nonprofit Fulton Education Foundation.
The grants are "designed to help schools get great ideas off of the drawing board and into the classroom," the Fulton County School District said in a press release.
The fund was created with a $7.8 million allocation from the Georgia General Assembly to help the district in its transition to become the state’s largest charter system.
“Supporting creative ideas and innovative practices are essential to customizing each school’s program to fit the needs of their community,” said Superintendent Robert Avossa. “Seed Funds are an investment, directed by our business community, in creating enriching and innovative projects that are aligned with each school’s strategic plan.”
To ensure that the seed funding would be spent creatively and efficiently, business leaders were asked to evaluate the proposals and recommend funding to those that will move their unique school-level strategic plan forward.
They met at North Highland, an Atlanta-based global management consulting firm, to hear 39 different proposals representing schools in Cohort 1, the first 20 schools to begin conversion within the charter system.
“We appreciate the support of our business community,” said Kenneth Zeff, the school system’s chief strategy and innovation officer. “Business members make up the board of our Fulton Educational Foundation and they used their expertise to help distribute the money, which is unusual – usually we’re asking them for money.”
In its initial year of awards, the Fulton Education Foundation approved 27 requests, with a per-project average award of about $139,400.
Some of the more interesting requests receiving funding include:
- Camp Creek Middle School has created CAFE, or Creating Attitudes For Excellence, an alternative to suspension that includes personalized instructional support with technology, targeted guidance counseling, and work readiness skills.
- Westlake High School’s SAT prep course will be expanded through seed funding. Unlike expensive private programs, Westlake’s SAT prep is a regular elective course taught during the school day withApplerouth SAT tutors as instructors.
- Roswell North Elementary School will add a 45-minute STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) framework for project-based learning and activities. Likewise, Sandtown Middle School will be able to implement the STEAM model through a stronger focus on technology and integration of STEAM concepts in classrooms.
- STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) will get a boost through seed funding of programs at Woodland Elementary and Spalding Drive elementary schools as they furnish STEM instructional labs with teacher training to match.
- Centennial High School received will completely redesign its media center into a model 21st Century learning center, with new learning and teaching spaces that encourage technology savvy and personalized learning.
- Some schools funding needs were simple, but will have big returns, such as Hembree Springs Elementary School’s grant to provide transportation to school events like open house and curriculum nights for parents who need it.
- Milton High School’s Tomorrow Begins Today combines peer leadership classes with early release to give time for staff development and student activities such as SAT prep and team activities.
- Heards Ferry Elementary School now has funds to apply to become an International Baccalaureate Primary Years School so it can feed into the IB curriculum already in its feeder middle and high schools.
- Mountain Park Elementary School will institute a daily 50-minute enrichment period in science and social studies using Talented and Gifted (TAG) higher-level thinking strategies and collaborative problem-solving.
- Shakerag and Abbots Hill elementary schools will use their award funds for TAG certification for all its teachers so it can increase rigor and challenge for all students. Hembree Springs will engage its teachers in professional development with small group and lectures that focus on curriculum instructional strategies and collaboration.
Other approved funding requests include a fitness program specially designed for women at Centennial High School and a physical and sports medicine program at Northview High School that uses partnerships with local medical community.