NCSS Dart Grants

Four Newton County teachers including Amy Carter from Cousins Middle, Marcus Pollard and Cecily Gunter from the Newton College and Career Academy and Vanessa Carter from RISE Academy received educational grants totaling in $14,000 from Dart Foundation.

COVINGTON — The Newton County School System recently announced that the Dart Foundation awarded approximately $14,000 in grants to three schools — Cousins Middle School, Newton College & Career Academy and RISE Academy.

The schools will utilize the grant funds for everything from using drone technology to teaching coding and problem solving to providing an interactive panel to deal with social/emotional learning.

Amy Carter at Cousins Middle School received a $4,990 grant to use drone technology to teach students about coding and real-world problem solving skills. Students will build drones, program the drones using a variety of coding languages, and fly the drones both inside and outside of the classroom. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills will be exemplified through this project.

“In order to prepare students for the future workforce, classrooms need to adapt and teach using technology,” said Carter. “Using the engineering and technology classroom, I am able to teach students how to apply technology into their everyday lives in a useful way. By increasing the opportunities offered through my program, I am helping to ensure the success of our future workforce. Using programming skills to program and fly drones is just one more opportunity for students to develop 21st century skills that will ensure their success in the future.”

Newton College & Career Academy agriculture instructors Cecily Gunter and Marcus Pollard received a $5,000 grant from the Dart Foundation to be used for a “Building Skills with a Sawmill” project. The department will purchase a LX55 Portable Sawmill that is able to convert logs to lumber.

“We will work with local tree service companies to acquire logs that would otherwise be chipped up,” said Gunter. “Students will use algorithms and charts to determine the amount of board feet available in a tree, as well as mechanical knowledge and skills to produce usable lumber to meet many needs.”

Gunter added, “A local tree company currently brings us trees removed from residential areas. With those trees we currently create firewood to sell to the public. We would like to be able to utilize logs that have a form better suited to create lumber, as opposed to being split into firewood. Students would have to utilize mathematical tables to identify the volume of the logs and make decisions on the dimensions of lumber to be created from that log. Lumber will be rough cut and can be sold as rough cut lumber to the public, utilized by several different classes and student organizations and utilized for community projects. Students can run the rough cut lumber through our planer to create smooth cut lumber for different projects. This can all be done with a LX55 Portable Sawmill. The sawmill allows us to apply mathematical standards to hand-on application. It also allows us to teach business concepts through a school-based enterprise. And it allows a student to take pride in producing a product.”

Vanessa Carter at RISE Academy received a $4,000 grant for her proposed program, “Interacting for the Win.” She explained, “Today’s students are dealing with emotional and social struggles that are adversely affecting their self-esteem, their academic success, their relationships with their peers, and their hope for future success. A new interactive panel will allow students to increase their self-awareness, explore their self-management skills, heighten their social awareness, improve their relationship skills, and lead them in becoming responsible decision-makers.”

She added, “Although Georgia is still in the developmental stage when it comes to a specific set of standards for social/emotional learning (SEL), we cannot afford to wait in addressing the SEL needs of Newton County students. Through the panel, they will be introduced to real people who have struggled through social and emotional pain and now share their stories. They will also be able to use the panel to work together to complete academic projects, giving them the opportunity to meet their academic goals while simultaneously building relationships. Since positive relationships are directly linked to positive emotional health, we are truly striving to interact for the win!”

“These three projects are well-aligned with the Dart Foundation mission because one of our top funding priorities is STEM education, along with workforce development. All three matched well with our grant guidelines which emphasize tangible items such as equipment and serving a large segment of the student population,” stated Emily Matthews, Foundation Manager.

“We appreciate the Dart Foundation’s continued support of our schools,” said Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of Newton County School System. “Their Foundation has donated thousands of dollars to our schools over the years through teacher grants and their support truly makes a difference in the lives of the children in those classrooms and schools. As always, we thank them for the generous contributions and commend them for their support of the students and teachers in our community.”

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Covington native and proud Valdosta State alumna, Hunter has previously worked with The Covington News and Valdosta Daily Times. She started working for Rockdale/Newton Citizen in June 2018.

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