JCPS awards $16K in grants to innovative students and teachers

Johnston County Public Schools students and teachers are putting $16,000 in grant money that was awarded this month to use in innovative practices in their classrooms and schools.

The JCPS department of Academic Innovation funded the grants from within their budget. The department awarded $500 grants to 32 students and teachers who submitted proposals detailing why they needed the funds to be innovative.

“The idea for the grants came from us attending a national conference. We wanted to present grants to students and teachers who had innovative ideas that could improve their community or school then present them with money to bring it to reality,” said Amy Stanley, JCPS Director of Digital Innovation.

This is the first year that JCPS has offered this type of grant to its students. Proposals from students ranged from wanting money to buy drones to simulate how bees pollinate flowers to new audio/visual equipment to improve a school’s news broadcast.

“My team and I wrote the proposal because we wanted our broadcast to be better,” said Clayton Middle student Makayla Brock. “We want to leave a legacy here, and for us to do so we need to create a quality product.”

Before receiving the grant money, students used their mentor’s smartphone to record their broadcast. With the awarded funds they plan to buy a camera, a microphone, and other materials to enhance their newscast.

“What’s exciting about seeing Makayla receive this grant is that I saw her in last year in English Language Arts and how she has grown as a writer,” said Principal Catherine Trudell. “Now she has used those argumentative skills to receive this award and not only help out her classmates but also leave behind a legacy.”

Dixon Road Elementary student Mason Tingen was awarded one of the JCPS Student Innovator grants. Tingen’s grant focused on a topic that has also been an issue addressed on the national level, finding a way to artificially pollinate plants because there is a decline in bee populations.

“I want to continue to have flowers and fruits where we live, so we need to find a way to help the bees do their job,” said Tingen. “My mom and I talked about how we could help them and we thought we could pretend to be bees and use drones to help carry the pollen around.”

Tingen plans on working with his teachers and other first grade students to utilize the engineering cycle to develop and test his ideas.

Jordan Rose, a student at Princeton Middle/High School, received one of the $500 Student Innovator grants. Rose plans to purchase school supplies and make them readily available for students and teachers in need.

Innovative ideas behind the teacher’s grants ranged from creating flexible learning environments in the classroom to purchasing STEM supplies for students.

A full list of students and teachers who were awarded the grants are as follows:

Teacher School Proposal Synopsis
Tyler Daughtry Archer Lodge Middle Planning for Change: Helping Middle School Students Identify Important Social Issues and Helping Them Understand How to Plan for Change
Amber Searfoss Cleveland High Creating a Flexible Learning Environment for Cleveland High Staff Members
Dawn Blankenship Johnston County Early College Creating and Modeling for Model Digital Citizens (target audience freshman and sophomore students)
Julie Della Rose/Elizabeth Parker Four Oaks Elementary Creating First Grade Playlists for Engaging Students in a Personalized Learning Process
Elisabeth Smith Glendale-Kenly Elementary The Book Whisperer: Creating Avid Readers
Bayley Clark Glendale-Kenly Elementary Creating Rigorous Learning Tasks for First Grade Students: Mastering Standards Through Proficiency Scales
Amber Martinez Glendale-Kenly Elementary Creating Rigorous Learning Tasks for First Grade Students: Mastering Standards Through Proficiency Scales
Kendall Harr Glendale-Kenly Elementary STEM & PBL: Student-led Learning and Real World Experiences (putting ideas into action with students)
Glenna Moore Meadow School Promoting kindness by having students create a reward system for the school.
Stacy Holloman Pine Level Elementary Promoting collaboration, communication, and high order thinking through games and morning meetings.
Lauren Hayes Pine Level Elementary Transforming the Professional Room into a Flexible Learning Environment for Pine Level Staff Members
Kim Ellison Powhatan Elementary Promoting STEM with teachers at Powhatan by providing materials and lessons that can be shared among grade levels.
Crystal Marcum Princeton Elementary Implementing Writing Revolution with 4th graders at Princeton Elementary.
Sherri Gaster Princeton Middle/High Flipping the Classroom: Digging In and Applying Content (managing learning stations in the secondary classroom)
Wendy Bates Riverwood Middle Promoting Inquiry based learning through science explorations.
Colleen Bonner West Johnston High Creating a flexible learning environment more conducive to collaboration through PBL  in her classroom.


Student School Proposal Synopsis
Makayla Brock Clayton Middle News Flash: Enhancing Clayton Middle News Show (acquiring needed camera and microphones)
Makenzie Blanchard Cleveland High Promoting FFA projects at Cleveland High by building a Chicken Coop and selling eggs for sustainability
Colby McNutt Cleveland Middle Learning About & Combating Erosion: Creating Flower Gardens to Eliminate Water Runoff in Flood Prone Areas
Laura Zamboni & Jillian Price Cleveland Middle Promoting healthy choices by revitizaling the raised beds in the courtyard to grow healthy foods that can be shared with the community.
Xtasy Villegas Johnston County Career & Technical Leadership Academy EMS: Exploring Potential Health-related Careers
Mason Tingen Dixon Road Elementary Drones for Garden Simulation (What Do Bees See During Pollination?)
Raiden Simmons Four Oaks Middle Promoting Social Emotional health through the creation of a Mindset/Relaxation area in the Media Center
Courtney Creech Four Oaks Middle Promoting Social Emotional health through the creation of a Mindset/Relaxation area in the Media Center
Jenna Massengill & Payton Braswell Four Oaks Middle Hands-On Learning: Working alongside the Agriculture teacher, these students will create a school garden by creating raised plant beds in the schoolyard (taking learning outside the regular classroom walls)
Maggie Rodriguez-Carbajal Micro Elementary Literature, Art, & Gardening: Celebrating the diversity at Micro Elementary through a new Rock Garden
Andrew Bruton North Johnston High Sound Experiences: Promoting the band program through individual and group learning experiences.
Preston Thompson Pine Level Elementary Promoting Positive Play and Student Interactions
Jacob Leonard Pine Level Elementary Promoting Positive Play and Student Interactions NOTE: the school is matching this grant.
Jordan Rose Princeton Middle/High Supporting lower income students through a supply closet that teachers can use to give to students without funding.
Harrison Bennett River Dell Elementary Promoting Bus Safety by providing visibility gloves for bus drivers so that they can be seen better with the time change (early/late dark)
Autumn Sharp Smithfield-Selma High Revitalizing a greenhouse at SSS to grow plants that can be shared with the community through the school’s food pantry

NOTE this student (who is a junior) has already enlisted underclassmen to help and to take on this project when she graduates.

Stanley said she hopes that with all the money that has been awarded it will encourage others to apply for grants in the future and be more innovative.