Five public schools in Forsyth County recently became the first grant recipients in a new foundation that supports teachers, students and schools.
While all 37 brick-and-mortar schools in the district submitted requests, The Forsyth County Schools Education Foundation awarded Chattahoochee Elementary, Vickery Creek Elementary, Cumming Elementary, Lakeside Middle and Otwell Middle schools each with a grant to be used in a range of capacities.
“They ranged from character education to STEM technology. There will be a lot of different ways these grants will be used in our schools,” said Hannah Samples, a spokeswoman for the district.
This funding is a first of its kind for Forsyth County.
The Board of Education approved the creation of the foundation in July 2015 as a branch of the district’s Partners in Education program.
Since then, the foundation has been raising money to funnel into schools.
This first round of grants was funded by RBM of Alpharetta, who donated $10,000.
Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden said a total of $298,908 was submitted in requests.
“We have a collective idea of creating a leadership opportunity for our students,” said Barbara Vella, principal at Chattahoochee.
She said the whole community has gotten behind the program, which includes peer buddies, ambassadors, mentoring special education students and a media and technology program.
“We’ve got so many things that are creating leaders in our children,” Vella said.
She said the grant will help transition those programs from ideas to reality.
“Sometimes our ideas and our dreams are limited by that almighty dollar. We know that at our school, that’s a challenge,” she said. “This grant enables us to just put a little wind in our sails and lets us see that it is possible to go out into the community and then support these great ideas we have for our children.”
Foundation member Tina Gable said the grant awarded to Vickery Creek will go toward professional development for staff through the Leader in Me program and Aligning Academics training.
Cumming’s grant will be used for a school-wide initiative to develop literacy skills, said foundation member Brian Richey, and the establishment of the Principal’s Book of the Month.
Funding to Lakeside will go toward character education by influencing student resiliency to prepare them for high school, said Janet Otwell, also a foundation member.
Brad Collins, foundation member, said the grant for Otwell will be used for a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) project called Science Literacy that focuses on integrating environmental science as a personalized learning strategy.
"Kids can see the relevance of what they’re doing and how it can blend into a career one day,” Chattahoochee’s Vella said, “and so we’re growing citizens who want to stay in Forsyth County and want to be productive citizens here in our own community.”