Cobb Schools Foundation, Atlanta Braves Foundation Awards $30,000 in Grants to Cobb Teachers

Bullard Elementary third grade teacher Ginny Coalson poses with her students after the Cobb Schools Foundation awarded her a $2,500 IMPACT grant along with second grade teacher Shery Dishman.

Students cheered. Red balloons floated down the hallways. Fellow teachers rushed in for congratulatory hugs. Members of the Atlanta Braves entourage like Homer, the Tomahawk Team and even a Braves player drove up the excitement, but each teacher’s face really lite up at the site of the over-sized Cobb Schools Foundation check with their name on it.

In partnership with the Atlanta Braves Foundation, the Cobb Schools Foundation awarded 19 IMPACT grants to Cobb educators in total just shy of $31,000. More than 120 teachers throughout the Cobb County School District submitted grant applications.

“It is a very hard decision, and we would love to award more,” said Natalie Rutledge, interim director Cobb Schools Foundation.

The Atlanta Braves Foundation helped to fund seven IMPACT grants worth about $10,000.

“It is a great partnership we have forged with the Atlanta Braves Foundation,” said Rutledge. “There is a lot of fanfare when the Atlanta Braves come into a school, and we look forward to working with more community partners so we can expand the amount of impact that we put in our schools.”

Several grants will advance STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) initiatives in Cobb schools. Also, teachers will use the funds to promote reading and history exploration.

Rutledge said a few of the grants are very unusual. For example, Daniel Middle School’s Leigh Anna Engkaninan will use the IMPACT grant to build a chicken coop, which will provide fertilizer for the school’s greenhouse. The sixth grade STEAM and Gifted Resources teacher received an IMPACT grant last year to build the greenhouse. Cheatham Hill Elementary will be able to create a farm-to-table learning experience thanks to the grant. In the spring, the Cheatham Hill students will use the vegetables and herbs grown in their hydroponic garden and raised garden beds for a fundraiser benefiting MUST Ministries.

“We applied for a grant so we could do a flip classroom in the math lab,” explained Kathy Newell, math lab instructor at Addison Elementary. “ [The $2,500 grant] will help us facilitate children’s learning, and we will be able to let the students use it for different applications throughout the day to provide more stimulation in their lessons.”

The teachers were not the only school staff members excited by the over-sized check and grant presentation.

South Cobb High School is so proud of Ms. Bobbie Isom for taking the initiative to apply to Cobb Schools Foundation for a grant,” said South Cobb Principal Clint Terza. “There are some great teachers out there. Ms. Isom is definitely at the top of that list. She loves what she does each and every day. She cares for her kids. South Cobb is a greater place for her efforts and initiatives.”

Isom, a health/physical education teacher at South Cobb, plans to use the $2,500 IMPACT grant to outfit her classroom with flexible seating. She said high school students need the flexible seating to improve their concentration.

“I’m so super excited about the grant we just received,” said Isom. “We are going to use the money to get some wobble chairs for the kids to move because sometimes the moving back and forth really helps them keep concentration on what they are doing. I was the same type of child. I needed to move around.”

The 2016 IMPACT grant is the first step for Isom. She eventually wants to change her whole classroom and add beanbag chairs in order to improve her students’ success in class.

 Rutledge, who presented the IMPACT grants to the teachers, said she wants teachers to continue to be creative and to think of ways they can improve student success. She also said teachers should not stop trying to get grants.

“From early Pre-K to adult education, we have reached every gamut of education in Cobb County like field trips for special needs children at East Valley Elementary and GED scholarships at the Adult Education Center,” Rutledge said. “We don’t give up on learning at the Cobb Schools Foundation. We never stop trying.”

2016 Cobb Schools Foundation IMPACT Grant Award Recipients:

Niki Ugokwe, Special Needs Preschool Teacher, Eastvalley Elementary

“Special Education Field Trips”          $ 1,658.80

Provides funding for 2016-2017 academic year field trips for self-contained classrooms comprising of students with primary exceptionalities of Autism, Down’s syndrome, Significant Developmental Delays and Mild Intellectual Disability in prekindergarten through fifth grade classrooms. Funds will provide these students with extracurricular experiences at Georgia Aquarium and Children’s Museum of Atlanta.


Diane Kordel, Spanish Teacher, Nickajack Elementary School

“Reading Rods Spanish Books and Pictures/Letter Rods”          $ 241.22

Funding to purchase Learning Resources Reading Rods Spanish Alfa-Libritos system to support the native Spanish speaking and non-native Spanish children acquire literacy skills. This system will help in reaching the goal of increasing students’ ability in using the Spanish language in real-world situations. This grant was awarded in partnership with the Atlanta Braves Foundation.


Lenora McCrea, GED Instructor, Cobb County Adult Education Center

“GED Scholarships”          $ 1,600.00

The Cobb County Adult Education Center (CCAEC) provides a second pathway to postsecondary education and to the workplace for adult learners who have not earned a high school diploma. The mission of CCAEC is to teach adult students the literacy skills necessary to become productive, responsible, well-adjusted members of the community.   Funding will provide 40 scholarships for GED testing and help these students take the next step of success.


Dr. Tamieka Grizzle

STEM/Computer Science/K-5, Harmony Leland Elementary

“Coders R Us”          $ 1,528.95

With computer programming becoming one of the fastest growing occupations, Robotics and Coding will be introduced using Dash and Dot robots for K-5 as part of STEM curriculum. In addition, a Coding and Robotics After School Club for fourth and fifth grades and a Before School Club for K-3rd grade can enhance this experience beyond the daily specials rotation that is part of the school day. By developing these applied science skills, students will gain problem-solving skills and develop mathematical thinking. This grant was awarded in partnership with the Atlanta Braves Foundation.


Betsey Olotka, STEM Specialist, Big Shanty Intermediate

“Welcome to STEM Mart”          $ 451.92

Funding will transform empty classroom into a STEM Mart where Big Shanty students can “shop” for materials they believe would be best for the STEM challenges they face. By creating STEM Mart, it will take the Big Shanty STEM program to the next level by providing additional opportunities for computations practice and integrating economics concepts such as supply and demand and budgeting.


Stephanie Charyna, STEM Lab Teacher, Big Shanty Intermediate

“Explore the USA through Coding”                 $ 844.96

Big Shanty is constantly integrating STEM principles throughout all subjects. In an effort to teach students the importance of geography and understanding our country and people in different areas, Sphero Education packs will be purchased to allow students to “cruise through America” and learn coding skills at the same time. This grant was awarded in partnership with the Atlanta Braves Foundation.


Kimberly Pair, Special Education Teacher, Lewis Elementary

“Fairy Tale STEAM kit”          $ 325.00

The Fairy Tales STEAM Kit goes along with the Cobb County School District’s Long Range goal of “Vary learning experiences to increase success in college and career pathways.” The kit is perfect for integrating STEM, literacy, creative expression and social-emotional development for preschool-2nd grade students.


Leigh Anna Engkaninan, STEAM and Gifted Resources/6th grade, Daniell Middle School

“Chicken Coop”                 $ 1800

Students will use funds to establish a chicken coop to be built at Daniell Middle School. Students will learn the life cycle of chickens, how to compost chicken waste into fertilizer for their greenhouse and how to care for the chickens. In addition, students will learn responsibility and cause/effect relationships from the many experiences they will gain when caring and maintaining the chicken coop. This grant was awarded in partnership with the Atlanta Braves Foundation.


Karen Parris, Speech Teacher, Lewis Elementary

“Themed Box Learning”              $ 449.00

Students with communication deficits in language learn best through hands-on curriculum for preschool ages. Utilizing theme-based curriculum, children are exposed to cognitive learning and development through a hands-on approach that solidifies concepts learned in the classroom.


Dr. Monica Alicea, Gifted Education Specialist, Cheatham Hill Elementary

“Dig In: Creating a Farm to Table Learning Experience”          $ 1,570.00

Students will use funds to begin a small hydroponic garden in the classroom and build two outdoor raised gardens to grow basil, parsley, lettuce, tomatoes and flowers. The vegetables and herbs grown will be used for the Kitchen Kids Cafe (a fundraiser benefiting MUST Ministries) for ingredients and decorations. Experimental learning like farm-to-table projects, instills a caring for the community, deeper interpersonal relationships and shared successes and failures. This grant was awarded in partnership with the Atlanta Braves Foundation.


Bobbie Isom, Health, South Cobb High School

“Redesigning the Classroom: Body in Motion, Mind Focused on Learning”          $ 2,500.00

Funding will provide flexible seating to allow students who need help focusing to choose the seating that best fits his/her learning style. Flexible classrooms improve student participation in learning, empower student voice and increase engagement.


Alana Davis, Innovations Specialist, Mableton Elementary School

“Mableton Elementary Sports Science Program”          $ 2000.00

An academic and wellness journey will help students to learn physiology, biomechanics and biokinetics in elementary school. Funding will be used to purchase equipment to help integrate STEAM and physical education to create this unique sports science program. Students will run, jump, throw and play and learn how to track their own athletic performance through data driven student recording. Every student will participate through the specials rotation and be motivated to come to school regularly. This grant was awarded in partnership with the Atlanta Braves Foundation.


Susan Buckert, Library Media Specialist, Walton High School

“For the Love of Reading: Increasing Student Attitudes, Achievement and Empathy through High School Book Clubs”                       $ 2,025.12

Funding will establish a local book club for students who want to read because they want to read for fun, not from class demands and deadlines. This book club co-op plan integrates with Governor Deal’s literacy campaign by inspiring readers, increasing access to quality reading, encouraging leisure reading practices and enhancing learning environments, giving students a place to discuss the world around them.


Tiffany Dahlberg, Geography, Pope High School

“Transporting History”           $ 2,499.97

Implementing Google Expeditions, students will create learning strategies using virtual reality field trips. By using Google Expeditions program, students can explore historical locations around the globe in their classroom. In addition for use in Social Studies, this technology can be applied to other subject areas with expeditions featuring natural science experiences and career shadowing, like a day in the life of a Project Manager, Scientist or Pilot. Whether the expedition is teacher-directed or student-inspired, this is an incredible way to experience the world. This grant was awarded in partnership with the Atlanta Braves Foundation.


Shery Dishman, 2nd grade; Ginny Coalson, 3rd Grade teachers Bullard Elementary

“Complete Reading Series Implementation”           $ 2,500.00

The Complete Reading Series is comprised of six research-based courses designed to help teachers implement effective phonics, reading and spelling instruction. Quality reading instruction will improve the number of students reading on grade level, which will have a positive impact on test scores in all areas. Effective reading instruction will strengthen education in our school ensuring that the percentage of students reading on or above grade level will increase, which will directly affect all other content areas.


Kathy Newell, Math Lab Instructor, Addison Elementary

“In Class Flipped Instruction and Student Electronic Portfolios”           $2,500.00

Interactive and engaging practices are necessary for the mathematical remediation and enrichment of content for students. The Flipped Learning model can enable the teacher to make a shift from teacher-drive instruction to student-centered learning. The independence in student centered-learning can be achieved by instruction delivered through video production of lesson expectations and math concepts to be conceptualized in the daily instructional format. This allows students to receive personalized learning at their own pace due to the ability to review the lessons and task expectations at will.


Peggy Clay, Library Media Specialist, Acworth Elementary School

“Modernizing the Elementary School Production Room”          $ 2,500.00

Funds will renovate and upgrade the production room used to produce the Acworth Elementary morning news show. The news show is student-driven and involves 28 fifth grade students who audition and apply to help produce the daily news. Broadcast each morning, this news program highlights weather, announcements, student birthdays and character word of the day while integrating music, movement and photography.


Sandra Weston, Certified Parent Facilitator, Floyd Middle School

“Educating Parents to be Parents”                 $ 1,500.00

A parental education program to encourage parents to be engaged and involved with their children, develop parenting skills and promote involvement in their child’s education.


Richard White, Science Teacher, Griffin Middle School

“Cracking the Code on Earth Science”           $ 2,500.00

This project combines technology and hands-on experiences to enhance learning about rocks and minerals. In accordance with Griffin Middle School’s strategic plan, this project promotes the integration of STEM curriculum towards STEM certification and provides advanced technology to more students.