Cobb Schools Foundation Surprises Teachers with a Record-Breaking $40,000 in IMPACT Grants

Santa came early this year for 23 Cobb teachers, but the jolly old elf didn’t arrive with eight tiny reindeer and a bundle of toys. Instead, one of Santa’s “elves” arrived with oversized checks to grant the teachers’ top wishes.

From Rubik Cubes and chickens to an outdoor classroom, bees and a library, the teachers wrote out their wish lists to increase student success. The Cobb Schools Foundation, in partnership with the Cobb EMC Community Foundation, Atlanta Braves Foundation, Gas South and Credit Union of Georgia, filled the teachers’ wishes by awarding the educators a record-breaking $40,000 in IMPACT Grants.

“Our partnerships and fundraising events like our upcoming Casino Night at SunTrust Park and annual golf tournament help provide the funding for Teacher IMPACT grants, SAT test prep, and scholarships. Special thanks to our partners for supporting teacher innovation in Cobb,” said Natalie Rutledge, Interim Director of Cobb Schools Foundation.

When the IMPACT grant prize patrol popped into the teachers’ classrooms, some of the teachers danced. Their students squealed. The teachers did too. The educators’ faces beamed like kids who just saw their gifts from Santa.

“It has been a dream come true. It will be really exciting to be able to take the kids outside and have that experience [in the outdoor classroom],” gushed IMPACT grant winner Patricia Dianto-Ucciferri, a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teacher at Pitner Elementary School.

Dianto-Ucciferri spent the past few years trying to get a grant for an outdoor classroom at her school. Thanks to the $2,482.35 IMPACT Grant awarded by the Cobb Schools Foundation, Pitner students will have the opportunity to study natural cycles, observe weather patterns, and explore land and rock formations in an outdoor setting.

Leigh Anna Engkaninan already introduced chickens to Daniell Middle School, but her $1,810 IMPACT Grant will help her expand her brood.

Fourth grade teacher Lily Denny applied for an IMPACT Grant to support the King Springs Elementary School community outreach to lower-income students. She plans to create a little library that students will be able to access outside school hours.

“This will really help our students continue reading not just when they are in school, but every single day, which is what increases their vocabulary and comprehension,” Denny explained.

The $1,245 IMPACT Grant awarded to Toni Sutherland will help students at Cheatham Hill Elementary School “Bee a conservationist.” Students in second and fourth grades will plant a pollinator garden, repair, and beautify the existing water pond and create an environment that attracts bees and butterflies to the area. 

Amanda Lovett wanted to increase her students’ math skills and conserve trees in the process. The Cobb Schools Foundation awarded Lovett $650 so she could purchase eWriters for her Lewis Elementary School Math Lab, which means students will use less paper while learning more.

Sprayberry’s Stacey Arnett applied for an IMPACT grant to boost the success of Sprayberry High School’s English Language Learner (ELL) students, who speak more than 20 languages. The Cobb Schools Foundation granted her wish, giving Arnett $2,435.95 to purchase Word-to-Word Dictionaries to help the ELL students improve their test scores and graduation rate.

“It is important to invest in teacher innovation because it benefits our students not just today but tomorrow,” Rutledge added. “Most of these projects have the components of a long lasting program to support the strategic plans of each school community. Yet again, we have awarded projects from our earliest elementary learners to our GED students at the Adult Ed Center.”

2017 IMPACT Grant Winners:

Kimberly Hutcheson Baker Elementary School “A Meteorologist I Will Be” $2,254.64
Saundra Watts Barber Middle School “Project Full-Tech STEM Ahead” $2,500.00
Toni Sutherland Cheatham Hill Elementary “Bee a Conservationist” $1,245.00
Gina Gullo Cheatham Hill Elementary School “Unlocking the Keys to Successful Student Learning” $1,000.00
Lenora McCrea Cobb County Adult Education Center “GED Scholarships” $2,500.00
Leighanna Engkaninan Daniell Middle School “Chicken Coop 2.0” $1,810.00
Wendy Astin Dowell Elementary School “Dissecting Language Arts” $1,750.00
Charmagne Quenan East Cobb Middle School “PocketLab Voyager Probes to Increase Science Engagement” $1,695.00
Susanne Smith East Side Elementary School “Picture Perfect STEM Books” $2,500.00
Leslie Lyjak East Side Elementary School “Why Math Works” $2,254.75
Paulette Allard Harrison High School “Magnify STEM!” $2,463.12
Kelley Davis Keheley Elementary School “Keheley Needs the Cube!” $1,834.94
Jenni Briggs Kemp Elementary School “Everyone is Unique” $1,030.00
Debbi Snyder Kincaid Elementary School “Extraordinary Gentlemen” $900.00
Lily Denny King Springs Elementary School “Little Free Library for King Springs Elementary” $440.00
Amanda Lovett Lewis Elementary School “Increasing Math Skills without Decreasing Trees” $650.00
Linda Guillory Lost Mountain Middle School “LMMS Business Fair” $2,500.00
Melissa Usrey McCall Primary School “Change Your Words, Change Your Mind” $2,473.65
Marnia Letendre Pitner Elementary School “Video Reflection Results in Great Teaching and Learning” $1,263.00
Patricia Dianto-Ucciferri Pitner Elementary School “Outdoor Classroom” $2,482.35
Moniquea Willingham Sedalia Park Elementary School “Park Math Squad” $1,183.39
Stacey Arnett Sprayberry High School “Word to Word Dictionaries” $2,435.95
Sarah Dowell Varner Elementary School “Multisensory Garden and Environmental Education” $2,491.00