08/10/11 — Norwayne gets $60,000 grant for computer lab

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Norwayne gets $60,000 grant for computer lab

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 10, 2011 1:46 PM

Norwayne Middle School is slated to receive a $60,000 grant to purchase software and lab furniture to improve its technology lab, officials say.

The school is one recipient from a four-county region receiving the Golden LEAF Foundation STEM grant.

The current Career and Technical Education, or CTE, lab will be refurbished to accommodate the new STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math modules, said Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

"It's part of a grant that we have been working on for about two and one-half years with some other counties and the Golden LEAF Foundation," she said.

As part of the grant, Paul Casey, technology teacher at the school, will receive training along with CTE teachers from the four-county region served by the grant, including Lenoir, Jones and Craven. Expansions to the STEM lab will be partially funded from the grant, with CTE funds also used to pay for a portion.

"We have got to go in and do some lab refurbishing, get the equipment out, paint the walls, do electrical upgrades," Mrs. McCullen said. "GoldLeaf is going to be giving us $60,000 for various things. We have to provide furniture, chairs and so forth. I have been able to get some computers that have been in storage, but we will have to do some upgrades.

"As part of the Race to the Top grant we have put some money in there for staff development. All of these funds are available in our budget."

The lab is expected to feature 14 modules, with access to 28 seats, said Sharon Gay, CTE lead teacher for the district. She said she has also been working with area businesses to support the program.

"Four companies agreed to partner with us -- AAR, SPX, Balfour Realtors and Cooper Standard," she said. "I asked them, if a student was coming out of Wayne County schools and they went to work for your company, what type of skills would they need? Each answered, one even said what they'd need out of high school, out of college."

The businesses also offered to support the program through mentoring, job shadowing and field trips, as well as volunteering to work with students at the school.

"They were very receptive to us, thought it was a wonderful idea," Ms. Gay said.

The program would give the district another STEM program, Mrs. McCullen said. It fits directly into "Project Lead the Way," an engineering program at Charles B. Aycock High School and one of the county's first career academies, as well as Wayne School of Engineering.

While the project had to obtain school board approval, which it did earlier this month, some questions were raised about how the program would be sustained after grant money ran out.

"We will have everything we need, once we get everything in, the furniture, chairs and computer modules," Mrs. McCullen said.

"As I understand it, they'll keep us upgraded for the first five years," Ms. Gay added. "We can add to it any time, get our business partners to come in and help."

"Race to the Top" is another resource, Mrs. McCullen said, and there is access to budget money through the CTE department as well as potential money from Golden LEAF in the future.