This is part of an initiative set forth by the hospital to bring enhanced learning opportunities to students in science and math. Grants are awarded to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers in Colquitt County. Local STEM teachers can apply for these funds to aid in a professional development endeavor or a student learning project.
“Ultimately, our goal for this grant is to establish a pipeline of students who have a strong interest in science and math, ensuring they aware of the career paths available to them, specifically those in healthcare,” said Colquitt Regional President and CEO Jim Matney. “We greatly value the opportunity to partner with teachers as they educate the next generation of healthcare professionals.”
During its inaugural year in 2018, grants were awarded to two recipients, Lee Causey of C.A. Gray Junior High School and Vance Hurst of Colquitt County High School.
Seeing the need for exposure to these fields at an earlier age, the hospital expanded eligibility to include elementary and middle school STEM teachers in 2020, and the award has continued to increase in submissions since then.
At this year’s scholarship luncheon, over $17,000 was awarded to a total of 14 recipients.
Representing CCHS, Vance Hurst received $2,500 to outfit one science lab with spectrophotometry equipment, which will be utilized by biology, chemistry, and physics classes throughout the year.
Casey Dudley, teacher at C.A. Gray Junior High School, was awarded $2,500 to purchase equipment such as blood pressure cuffs and digital scales to teach vital signs to students.
Willie J. Williams Middle School’s Anita Hrncirik also received the $2,500 grant, which will allow her to purchase foundational equipment for lab experiments and for testing project builds, which will help her grow the school’s Science Olympiad competitive science program.
Christine Ray, Colquitt Christian Academy science teacher, was awarded $2,500 to help with acquiring equipment, tools, and lab manuals to establish a project-based physics and physical science classroom.
In hopes of educating her students on the topics of germs and the immune system, Zana Spell, a teacher at Sunset Elementary School, received a grant of $1,000. She will use the funds to purchase various scientific instruments to help show students good and bad germs, how medicine works to fight off germs and bacteria, why handwashing is important and how these relate to flattening the COVID-19 curve.
At Doerun Elementary School, Ashley Pitts will utilize her $1,000 award to purchase all equipment needed to implement “The Pollution Project,” a multidisciplinary project focused on Earth and environmental sciences.
Justin McDowell, who teaches agriculture and STEM at Hamilton Elementary School, received $1,000 to introduce coding robots to elementary students and allow them to learn the basic skills of coding through weekly STEAM (science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics) rotations.
The $1,000 grant that was awarded to Norman Park Elementary School teacher Jennifer Merritt will be used to enhance the school’s newly completed outdoor classroom with the addition of a butterfly garden.
Hayley Jarvis will use her $1,000 to help build a fully functional chicken coop from start to finish for her students at R.B. Wright Elementary School. This will teach students responsibility, respect for animals, food science, and sustainable living practices.
Similarly, Justin Liles, a teacher at Odom Elementary School, has dedicated his $1,000 grant to the acquisition of new microscopes. With this new equipment, students can participate in hands-on learning about plant and animal cells, microorganisms, seed and grain comparisons, and different types of soil particles.
At GEAR, Jason Suber will utilize his $1,000 to establish an outdoor learning area where students can participate in learning outside the classroom and perform other labs and activities.
Amanda McPherson and Michele Croft, teachers at Stringfellow Elementary School, have partnered to bring STEAM and literacy activities together with their $1,000 grant. The STEAM program will implement a series of hands-on learning activities to incorporate STEAM learning objectives and the media center will select a high-quality book to bring in the literacy part of each lesson.
NaCole Knutson at Cox Elementary School will utilize her $1,000 award to purchase a 3D printing cart that will allow teachers to foster creativity and critical thinking skills for students.
“STEAM programs play a key role in providing a well-rounded education for our students,” said Hospital Authority Chairman Richard E. Turner, Jr. “We are proud to be able to provide funds that will go directly to hands-on student projects and the advancement of their learning.”
Caption: For the fifth year, Colquitt Regional has partnered with local teachers to enhance learning opportunities through the Colquitt Regional Teacher Stipend Award. Pictured are the 2022 recipients of the award. Back row, from left: Colquitt Regional President & CEO Jim Matney, Vance Hurst, Jason Suber, Justin Liles, Colquitt County Superintendent Ben Wiggins. Front row, from left: Hayley Jarvis, Anita Hrncirik, Christine Ray, Jennifer Merritt, Zana Spell, Nacole Knutson, Michele Croft, and Amanda McPherson. Not pictured: Casey Dudley, Ashley Pitts, and Justin McDowell.