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Students, teachers receive $16,000 in innovation grants

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SMITHFIELD — Johnston County Public Schools students and teachers are putting $16,000 in grant money to use in innovative practices in their classrooms and schools.

The school system’s Department of Academic Innovation funded the grants from within its budget. The department awarded $500 grants to 32 students and teachers who submitted proposals detailing why they needed the funds.

“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, the district’s director of digital innovation.

Proposals for teacher grants ranged from creating flexible learning environments in the classroom to purchasing STEM supplies for students.

This is the first year students have been eligible to receive innovation grants. Student grant proposals ranged from purchasing drones to simulate how bees pollinate flowers to buying new audio/visual equipment to improve a school’s news broadcast.

Four teachers from Glendale-Kenly Elementary School were awarded $500 grants for their projects: Elisabeth Smith, “The Book Whisperer: Creating Avid Readers;” Bayley Clark, “Creating Rigorous Learning Tasks for First-Grade Students: Mastering Standards Through Proficiency Scales;” Amber Martinez, “Creating Rigorous Learning Tasks for First-Grade Students: Mastering Standards Through Proficiency Scales;” and Kendall Harr, STEM and PBL: Student-Led Learning and Real-World Experiences.”

Two teachers from Pine Level Elementary School received $500 grants: Stacy Holloman, “Promoting Collaboration, Communication and High-Order Thinking Through Games and Morning Meetings” and Lauren Hayes, “Transforming the Professional Room Into a Flexible Learning Environment for Pine Level Staff Members.”

Two Pine Level students also received grants: Preston Thompson and Jacob Leonard, “Promoting Positive Play and Student Interactions.”

One Princeton Elementary and one Princeton Middle/High School teacher, respectively, received grants: Crystal Marcum, “Implementing Writing Revolution with Fourth-Graders at Princeton Elementary,” and Sherri Gaster, “Flipping the Classroom: Digging In and Applying Content.”

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

Maggie Rodriguez-Carbajal, a student at Micro Elementary School, received a $500 grant for her project, “Literature, Art, and Gardening: Celebrating the Diversity at Micro Elementary Through a new Rock Garden.”

North Johnston High student Andrew Bruton received a grant for “Sound Experiences: Promoting the Band Program Through Individual and Group Learning Experiences.”

Autumn Sharp, a student at Smithfield-Selma High, was awarded a grant for her project, “Revitalizing a Greenhouse at SSS to Grow Plants That Can Be Shared With the Community Through the School’s Food Pantry.”

Dixon Road Elementary student Mason Tingen was awarded a grant to artificially pollinate plants in an effort to reverse a decline in bee populations.