Bagwell master's candidate receives grant for infusing classroom with technology

Susan McCurry

The third time’s the charm. At least it’s proving to be for Fair Oaks Elementary School teacher and Bagwell College of Education master’s candidate Susan McCurry.

“I was a stockbroker, then a banker, then I went back to school to get an education degree because this is really what I wanted to do the first time around,” McCurry said.

McCurry was recently awarded a $33,000 “Promising Practices Grant” from the Cobb County School District for her efforts to include technology into her classroom.

“Even as a banker, I was the person who always wanted to learn to use the new spreadsheet program,” she said. “I just like technology.”

In December, McCurry will earn her master’s in instructional technology degree from the Bagwell College. As a teacher in an Area 2 school, McCurry learned about the advanced degree through training programs offered at her school. Funded by an $8.9 million Teacher Quality Partnership grant, the Bagwell College of Education collaborates with Area 2 schools in Cobb County to prepare teachers to teach English language learners, students with special needs and those who live in poverty.

“The more I saw what you could do with technology in the classroom, the more I became interested in the degree program,” McCurry said. “I don’t think I would have ever applied for this grant if I wasn’t studying instructional technology.”

With the grant, McCurry is buying her fifth grade inclusion class a set of laptops, which they will use in a hydroponic gardening project.

“During this project, we’ll be collaborating with a high school in Singapore,” she said. “If our kids have questions, they can post them in an online forum and have the high school kids answer.”

McCurry’s students will be required to keep data on the gardens, monitor the nutrients in the water, upload information from pH readers and create spreadsheets to track the data. There will also be a compare-and-contrast essay, hydroponics vs. traditional farming.

“This grant has really opened up an opportunity for my kids,” she said. “Part of our vision and goal is to develop leaders here, and even though our kids come from impoverished backgrounds, they will hopefully have the skill set to compete one day, and a lot of that comes from technology.”

 

--Jennifer Hafer