By Kendall Patterson
The Chester County Junior High’s Robotics classes and Chester County High School’s Coding classes will be able to enhance their education with the help of funds from grants through the Tennessee Valley Authority and Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation.
The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000 and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem solving as well as pandemic related projects. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.
Chester County’s Junior High’s Robotics program, instructed by Dr. Colette Carrabba and Lindley Carpenter, received the max amount of $5,000 in grant money.
Dr. Carrabba is the one who applied for the grant.
“Dr. Carrabba is absolutely exceptional. She is one of the most outgoing, creative person that I know in order to gain money in order for our school to do great things,” CCJHS Principal Belinda Anderson said.
The students at CCJHS are using VEX IQ robots to learn the value of coding, robotics and future careers involving both.
Carrabba’s goal is for the school to get to the point of where the students can compete amongst each other and eventually against other schools.
This not only helps interest students in coding and robotics at a younger age to prepare them for possibly continuing on through high school, but also allows them to have a deeper sense of the field before they enter college.
The high school’s information and technology teacher Adele Ellington applied a grant of $1,500 for her Computer Science Foundations, Web Design and Web Development classes.
The grant money will be used toward more equipment and technology for her classes to enrich their educational experiences.
In addition to these young tech geniuses competing in competitions in computer science, web design and web development, they are also building websites for local businesses such as 7 Treat 1 and El Ranchito.
TVA awarded $800,000 to 197 schools out of over 600 applications.
Out of the 197 schools, “over 72,000 students will be directly impacted from these grants, not to mention how many will be indirectly impacted (equipment purchased for schools/programs put in place/etc. that will be used for years to come),” said T.J. Thompson of TVA Government Relations.
“Partnering with local power companies (like Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation) to make life better for the people of the Valley is foundational to our purpose and mission. Because we don’t have investor pressure like investor-owned utilities do, we can reinvest revenues directly back to the communities we serve.”
“One of the ways we join with Local Power companies to strengthen communities is through the STEM program. Together with our retiree organization (BVI), TVA and local power companies are helping to spark interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among young students – opening doors to successful careers in these vital fields,” she said. “STEM education also lays the groundwork for a strong future workforce across our seven states, helping us bring industry and jobs to our region.”
“TVA is doing a really great thing here. Anything you can do do for the kids, especially in tech, gives them a really good chance of them getting a job,” said STEMC President Murphy.
“We are thrilled to be able to put money directly into the hands of teachers that are on the front lines in the classroom. We realize this year, especially, has been challenging and have been so impressed with how teachers have adapted to make sure students are still learning through this pandemic. Our hats are off to you,” Thompson said.