Barrow County Schools Awarded Grant

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Governor Press Release click here

8/08/11
Contact: Dr. Wanda Creel

Barrow County Schools has just been awarded a three year grant to further advance the Direct to Discovery(D2D) distance learning model which we developed in partnership with Georgia Tech and the Georgia Board of Regents.  Barrow County is located in the heart of the innovation crescent. One of the primary requirements for our region to attract high tech industry is to be able to provide a tech savvy work force to ensure their operation and success.

As one of only five recipients of the Race to the Top Innovation Grants Program, Barrow County Schools received one of the programs largest awards at $1.7 million over three years. Barrow's proposal is divided into four primary areas:

Direct to Discovery is designed as an ultra tech solution to improving student performance and interest in science and math that leverages high definition video conferencing systems located in Georgia Tech labs with Barrow middle and high school math and science labs. As the first school district in Georgia with consistent high speed access to Internet2, we leverage the capabilities of our network to bring state research luminaries in leading fields such as nanotechnology and biomedicine into long term collaborations with our teachers and students to breathe new life and relevance into the states standard math and science curriculum.

Students and teachers attending a D2D enhanced course will each receive an Apple IPad2 to keep until the end of the course.  The grant will also allow Barrow County Schools to design a custom teaching and learning social network to enhance communication and collaboration between all teachers in the district. Initially, the districts science and math teachers along with their scientist partners will use this state of the art network portal to fine tune the Direct to Discovery process and share teaching strategies and resources. The network will look much like Facebook, but will be enhanced with video conferencing tools, shared whiteboards and collaborative versions of PowerPoint and other applications that allow teachers separated by miles to work simultaneously on various educational projects.

A third component of the grant is dedicated to the needs of elementary students as they encounter math concepts for the first time. We have partnered with ArtsNow! to provide an intensive staff development regime that will help teachers learn to integrate music and art directly into the study of mathematics.  This process will better prepare students for the more math intensive Direct to Discovery science courses that await them in middle and high school.

Finally, the grant includes funds to connect Winders' own Colleen Williams Theater and local TV station directly into Barrow County School's high speed educational network. This strong connection to the community will become a conduit for cultural exchanges and student created projects for generations of students and will fit perfectly with the broadcasting courses currently offered at our high schools.

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Barrow County School System is a District Charter System and Pre-K-12 Research District