Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal recently announced that Sallie Zetterower Elementary School will receive $3,000 from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement’s Innovation Fund. The school’s STEM Lab teacher, Ansley Mays, wrote a grant, “Sprouting STEM at Sallie Z,” and submitted it to the Innovation Fund’s Tiny Grant Program. In March, Deal announced that SZES was one of 20 recipients of Tiny Grants that totaled more than $135,400.
Mays will use the funds to create an outdoor STEM classroom to supplement her existing indoor STEM lab. Sallie Z was the only school south of Macon to receive a grant.
Mays has been a prolific grant writer this year as she sought to expand the specialty science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resources for her students.
“She has won over $6,800 in grants in the first year of her program,” said SZES Principal Julie Mizell. These funds are in addition to a $25,000 grant the district received from Monsanto to provide approximately $1,200 in math and science resources for the school system’s nine elementary STEM labs.
Her other grants have included a 3-D printer from Georgia Southern University’s College of Education, a $500 Dr. Joe B. Crane Classroom Grant from the Georgia Agribusiness Council, and two innovation grants from the Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education totaling nearly $2,000 in 3-D printer supplies, interactive STEM centers, an iPAD, Osmo program, and STEM literature. Mays and her students have been exploring how science, technology, engineering and math relate to agriculture. As part of their study of plant science, the outdoor classroom will eventually feature aquaponics.
According to GOSA, the Innovation Fund invests in public education entities that aggressively develop and scale programs that enable Georgia educators to improve student performance and tackle the state’s most significant education challenges. In 2011, The Innovation Fund began as a $19.4 million competitive grant competition created under Georgia’s Race to the Top (RT3) Plan. To continue the Innovation Fund’s work beyond RT3, Deal appropriated state funding for fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Since its inception, the Innovation Fund has invested more than $33 million of state and federal funding through 115 grants to 92 school districts, traditional public schools, charter schools, postsecondary institutions and nonprofit organizations to pilot innovative education programs, ranging in focus from teacher and leader induction and development to STEM applied learning, blended learning and birth-to-age-8 language and literacy development.