Georgia Tech Partnerships Support State K-12 STEM Education

Initiatives funded through Race to the Top Innovation Grant program

Strengthening education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) remains a priority in Georgia. With approximately $1.6 million in funding made possible through Race to the Top (RT3) program, the Georgia Institute of Technology is partnering with K-12 schools to address this challenge.

Teach for Georgia
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Grants provide funding to recruit Georgia Tech STEM majors to teach in underserved rural Georgia school districts.

Georgia Tech has a role in three of the five projects approved through the initial round of Innovation Fund grants recently announced by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. The projects were selected from among 70 competing for support of high-impact programs for student success.

Teach for Georgia, a collaborative partnership between Georgia Tech, the Okefenokee Regional Educational Services Agency (RESA) and the Ware and Dougherty county school districts, is a teacher pipeline program modeled after the successful Teach for America (TFA) initiative. A $1 million grant will provide funding to recruit Georgia Tech STEM majors to teach in underserved rural Georgia school districts. The grant will cover two years of competitive salaries and certification support for program participants.

There are a myriad of reasons for the shortage of academically qualified STEM secondary education teachers in rural Georgia, according to Donna Llewellyn, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. “Teach for Georgia will address two of our primary concerns: the shortage of necessary funds available to hire new teachers and the ability to attract new STEM graduates to these communities.”

A second $270,000 grant will support continued collaboration between Barrow County and Georgia Tech for a novel program that brings higher-education instruction to K-12 students via a sophisticated high-definition (HD) videoconferencing platform. Known as Direct to Discovery (D2D), the program has already connected high-school classrooms directly to cutting-edge research under the direction of scientists and engineers from Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI).

Georgia Tech will also partner with Georgia State University and Drew Charter School to establish one of the state’s first STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) programs. The initiative involves collaboration with three Georgia Tech units: Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC), Ferst Center for the Arts and the College of Architecture. CEISMC will also provide professional development for teachers and conduct project evaluation. Georgia Tech will receive approximately $385,000 to support these programs.

The Innovation Fund was created from $400 million in RT3 funding awarded in August 2010. The state’s application included extensive input from education stakeholders and members of the business and philanthropic communities who helped develop the program.