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Co-op in the Classroom

(ATTENTION TEACHERS! – Walton EMC offers educational grants to schools and classroom teachers for a myriad of uses that further instructional programs. Any public school located within Walton EMC's service territory is eligible to apply. Private schools can apply as well if they are served by Walton EMC electric service.

Due to the uncertainty from COVID-19, this year’s grant program is on hold. Walton EMC is considering alternate application deadlines and presentation dates as well as expanding accepted uses of the grant money to accommodate the changes in instruction and school operations that educators are currently experiencing. Your principal will receive details as soon as they’re available.)

Throughout Walton EMC’s service area, Christmas comes early when co-op representatives deliver School EmPOWERment Grants to classrooms in early December.

The grants, which provide classroom-level funding for educational programs and projects, are one way the cooperative invests in the students, teachers and 75 schools within its service area.

“Providing a reliable electric system is paramount at Walton EMC, but we’re also dedicated to maintaining vibrant, sustainable communities,” said Jennifer Broun, the co-op’s community and youth representative. “The EmPOWERment grants benefit education, which contributes to the quality of life here in northern Georgia.”

Walton EMC handed out grants totaling $360,338 in 2019. Those disbursements bring the four-year grant total to more than $1.4 million.

Many of the 81 grants presented last year are helping educators teach the key subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — popularly known as STEM. For instance, a $4,949 grant helped Jennifer Haynes, a K-2 STEM teacher at Morgan County Primary School, purchase robotics kits. Second graders will use them to learn computer coding skills.

“Coding is great for teaching how to follow directions, problem solve, communicate and persist in a difficult task,” the teacher said.

Her students, most of them only 8 years old, learn to build their own robots and then program them to perform specific tasks.

“If the robot does not do what the student wants it to do, then the student must debug the code and try again and again, until the robot performs the movement,” she said.

Coding and robot building provide challenging STEM coursework necessary to prepare today’s students for a future world that is heavily reliant on technology.

“Our students love them!” Haynes added. “Thank you so much Walton EMC, for your grant made this purchase possible for our students!”

The recent round of EmPOWERment grants also supports numerous literacy programs benefiting students of all ages. At Cooper Elementary in Loganville, a $4,000 grant funded the Community of Readers project. Nearly 1,000 books and magazine subscriptions were purchased for all of the school’s K-5 and special education classrooms, giving every student in the school access to new reading materials.

“The teachers and students have loved the books they got,” said Aimee Litt-Ward, literacy coach and reading teacher at the school. “The goal is to give students opportunities to read something alongside a buddy and collaborate, much like a book club.”

The first books were distributed during Read Across America week in early March, just before schools were forced to transition to remote instruction.

“Many of these books went home with students during the shelter-in-place,” Litt-Ward said. “The books gave students a way to step back from their digital work and have some reading material in their hand.”