Three area schools have received grants to improve STEM education in their classrooms.
Brown County Middle School in Mount Sterling, The Garrison School in Jacksonville, and Pikeland Community School in Pittsfield are 3 of the 25 elementary and middle schools in Illinois named recipients of 3-year grants. These grants will be used to train and develop teacher’s abilities to give in-depth lessons in STEM subjects and offer students opportunities to improve in science and math and potentially pursue STEM-related careers. Many things were evaluated to select the 25 final schools, including current initiatives and financial hardships.
The grants were awarded through the Illinois Science and Math Academy STEM Fusion Program, developed as part of the state’s bicentennial celebrations. All grant money was privately funded. The grants are sponsored by the ISMA to encourage the pursuit of learning and growth in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
Karen Jirjis is the Principal of Brown County Middle School. Jirjis offers the preliminary plans for the curriculum at the school, and how this grant allows for teachers and students to begin building their own legacies.
“We are all very excited to work with IMSA because we know they have a really strong program and we’re happy to bring it into our school. We’re planning on having it integrated daily into our fifth and sixth grade classrooms, and we’re working on our schedule right now and hoping to do it daily also in the seventh and eighth. If not, we would still offer at least 90 minutes a week for 7th and 8th grade. One of the strengths of this program is that they want to make sure that it’s sustained after the three years. We will plan to make sure that this will be here for the future. If we want our students to be successful globally, we have to get them really prepared in science and math and technology. It’s a very exciting opportunity for them.”
Rhonda Massey is the Principal at the Garrison School. Massey gives an overview of what this grant means for Garrison School and why it fits well with the plans for next school year. “STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. There is also STEAM, which adds the Arts to it, and that’s where I think we’re going with it. We have a particular teacher who is much more into the arts, and we’re going to combine that with my teachers who are more mathematically and scientifically inclined. It’s all about building things — going that extra step and using your hands, which I think is very beneficial for our kids, and problem solving – which we all know is something that we’re really pushing in the school systems right now.”
Seventy other qualifying schools will receive one-year grants through the same program. That list of schools has not been released. The bicentennial grant program will run until May 2021.