Oak Grove Primary receives $30K STEM grant

By HASKEL BURNS,

The Lamar County School District’s recent focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities and curriculum has paid off for Oak Grove Primary School, which is the recipient of an expected $30,000 grant from the Mississippi State Board of Education.

The grant is awarded as part of the K-8 STEM Initiative Enhancement Project, which is aimed at supporting implementation of STEM activities in classrooms and coursework while providing technology upgrades and educator training to implement STEM applications. District Superintendent Tess Smith said the primary school’s grant was written and applied for by principal Alice Rainwater, who plans to use the funds to more readily offer devices like Chromebooks and similar products.

“That would help her support implementation of STEM activities in the classroom and across all coursework,” Smith said. “So it’s going to be kind of embedded into what they do during the day.”

When considering recipients for the grant, priority was given to schools implementing engineering, computer science, robotics and other project-based STEM activities to expand the current Mississippi College and Readiness Standards for math and/or science for K-8.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Smith said. “I’m very proud of this principal – she stepped out, and she and some of her leadership wrote this grant because it’s something they believe in and want to bring in early.

“And it’s something that ties in with our college and career (initiatives), getting these kids interested in STEM at an early age. Not that they’re going to pick their career at that level, but it may help them start weighing out what they’re most interested in.”

The Lamar County School District is one of 15 school districts throughout Mississippi that will share in the grant program, which totals more than $896,000. Other districts include the McComb School District (Summit Elementary School), Rankin County School District (Brandon Middle School) and Pontotoc City School District (DT Cox Elementary School and Pontotoc Elementary School).

“These grants will help schools increase opportunities for students to explore STEM education in elementary and middle school so they will be better prepared for STEM courses in high school,” SBE Chief Academic Officer Nathan Oakley said in a statement. “STEM-related professions are growing, and there is an increasing demand for high school and college graduates with expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”