Golden Leaf Foundation awards grant for Anson Middle STEM program

By: Staff Report

Anson County Schools was recently awarded a $950,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation to implement a STEM program at Anson Middle School.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

During a reception held on Monday, Nov. 20, Superintendent Michael H. Freeman accepted the check on behalf of Anson County Schools.

“Golden LEAF is proud to help prepare North Carolina’s youth for local career opportunities requiring a foundation in STEM education, due to the growing demand for these skills in industries across the state,” said Mark Sorrells, Golden LEAF senior vice president.

“Supporting successful models that increase STEM education for students in rural and economically distressed counties of North Carolina will better prepare our youth for college and careers in demand, that pay good wages and meet local labor force needs,” he added.

“This opportunity for students at AMS will provide them learning opportunities to establish a foundation that will be built upon for life as they experience future learning,” Freeman said.

According a press release, Freeman and the Anson County Board of Education are “very appreciative” to the Golden LEAF Foundation for this generous level of support.

The release said that the project, which will require a 20 percent match from the school district, will help fund the implementation of Project Lead the Way’s Gateway modules at the middle school. The matching funds will come from the local sales tax allotted to ACS by the county commissioners.

The Golden LEAF Community‐Based Grantsmaking Initiative grant specifically addresses Golden LEAF’s funding priority of investing in education, which will serve as a building block for economic growth in rural areas.

The release also stated that it allows underrepresented populations of students to be exposed to STEM education and careers. Through the implementation of this program, students will use technology to solve real‐world problems as aligned with core areas of study. Not only will students’ academic performance flourish, but students will also gain the prerequisite skills and knowledge necessary to successfully complete educational and career pathways available to them at the high school level.

Funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation will be used to purchase PLTW modules, computer equipment, as well as fund staff positions needed to implement the programs: design and modeling, energy and the environment, science of technology, computer science, medical detectives, and flight and space. These programs will serve all 630 Anson Middle School students for the current school year and will be implemented over a three‐year period.

Students will complete these modules through science, elective, and enrichment courses. Students will also have opportunities to participate in leadership activities and STEM programs located off-campus.

Nicole Steagall, the program’s onsite coordinator for the project, said that she has high hopes for the future, since being selected as a grant recipient.

“Through this grant and the implementation of a STEM program, we have the ability to change the middle school experience for our students,” she said. “Learning will no longer be confined to the walls of the school, but our students will be challenged at the highest levels to think beyond what has already been done, as they will one day serve as catalysts for the economic growth and prosperity of Anson County.”

Staff Report