Schools receive technology grant

COVINGTON - In an effort to increase technology usage among students, many Newton County School System teachers and others around the state are looking continuously for ways to implement new technology into their classrooms and to find money to help in the attempt.

The Newton school system announced earlier this month that two of its schools, Ficquett Elementary and Veterans Memorial Middle, received more than $38,000 each in cash and technology products after applying for the 2008 HP Technology for Teaching grant.

Each school will receive an HP Design Jet Printer for the entire school staff and five of the following for teachers on the grant team: HP Tablet PCs, digital projectors, printers, digital cameras, Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007 and Microsoft Student 2008. The teachers also will receive online professional development from the International Society for Technology in Education and a $500 stipend, said Dr. Linda Hayden, associate superintendent for instruction at NCSS.

She said the awarded grants have a combined value of $80,000.

"The teachers at Ficquett and Veterans were awarded these grants because they are creative and caring teachers who are willing to do whatever it takes to help their students learn," said Dr. Kathy Garber, NCSS grant writer, in a press release. "They worked hard on the grant applications and are very excited about receiving 'state of the art' technology which comes with this award."

Garber assisted the teachers on their grant applications.

At Ficquett, a team of teachers made up of kindergarten teacher Susan Fowler, first-grade teacher Kena Hudgins, second-grade teacher Laurie Carpenter, third-grade teacher Heather White and fourth-grade teacher Kristen Emerson were awarded the grant for their proposed technology project, Welcome to the Digital World of Plants and Animals.

With the grant, the students will explore the world of living things by following life cycles with plants they raise and by having animals like ants, gerbils, frogs and butterflies in their classrooms to observe them from birth to adulthood.

Students will take pictures and videos of the plants and animals in the classrooms and on walking tours at their school and around Newton County. Afterward, they will create books and electronic portfolios of what they learned.

At Veterans, a team of teachers including seventh-grade science teacher Pat Alexander, sixth-grade math teacher Joan Braswell, eighth-grade interrelated science teacher Bonnie Garvin, eighth-grade science teacher Cliff Roberts and eighth-grade math teacher Lynn House won the grant with their project, "CSI: Veterans Memorial."

According to the project, grant money will help students learn about the "power of observation and inquiry" by investigating different crime scenes and making casts of such "evidence" as footprints and fingerprints, tire treads and other collected data to take measurements and apply scientific and mathematical rules. Science teachers will aid in the scientific process, and math teachers will provide information on measurement and data collection.

The students will also use digital photography to photograph the "evidence," use a large printer to create "Wanted" posters and use projectors and PC Tablets to present the findings to the "prosecutor."

The schools are two of 149 public schools and two- and four-year colleges and universities in the United States and Puerto Rico to receive more than $7 million from the 2008 HP Technology for Teaching grant program.

"Around the world, HP partners with pioneering teachers and schools to discover how technology can improve student success," said Sid Espinosa, director of Global Social Investment program at HP, in a press release. "While technology is not the answer to every educational challenge, we have witnessed its incredible and transformative impact in the classroom. This innovation is happening every day as teaching and learning are fundamentally changing. By helping teachers help students, HP is actively investing in the future of our children and our communities."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.