MOULTRIE, Ga. — Colquitt County High School science teacher Vance Hurst was on a mission to bring more science and engineering opportunities to his students. Because of the Teacher Partnership Stipend offered by Colquitt Regional Medical Center, his dream became reality.
Hurst was one of the lucky recipients of the stipend for the 2017-2018 school year. With the money earned, he was able to start the first robotics club at CCHS, an opportunity he has wanted to provide to students for several years now.
Colquitt Regional CEO Jim Matney expressed his excitement towards the partnership and the opportunities it has already created for the Colquitt County school system.
“The Teacher Partnership Stipend is a great way for local educators to receive funding for passion projects,” said Matney. “We are excited to partner with teachers to further learning opportunities that reach beyond the classroom and make a lasting impact on students.”
The CCHS Robotics team consists of Hurst and seven student participants, with plans to expand to 10 members next year. Team members include: Ian Small, Katherine Monroy, Seth Snipes, Kahmin Keller, Pierre Palms, Abby Baker and Cynthia Quiroz.
Hurst and the students were able to buy all the equipment needed to construct the robot with the stipend money, along with covering all registration and competition fees associated with the First Tech Challenge.
FTC is a competition that announces the yearly engineering challenge in September followed by a five-month period for students to build their robot and participate in regional competitions.
Although relatively small, the team brought great success during their inaugural year. They took second overall in the region, third in the district, and fifteenth in the state out of 160 total teams. The end of the season also brought them a trophy for the robot with the most innovative design.
Along with the close camaraderie that being on a small team brings, the benefits of this program are invaluable. According to Hurst, having a robotics team will allow STEM-minded students an extracurricular outlet, along with gaining an introduction to robotics and microcontrolled machines, problem-solving in an engineering environment and coding a microcontroller.
“Our students will benefit by being exposed to science and engineering fields that are not the standard biology and chemistry that all students have to take to graduate,” said Hurst. “I hope our robotics team will help introduce students to engineering and build a passion that they will pursue in college and beyond.”
Now that the team has been established, they are looking forward to next year. Hurst wants to carry the momentum that this team has built into the next competitive season, where they will continue to improve on the constructed robot and strengthen their engineering skills.
Colquitt County mathematics and science educators at CCHS and C.A. Gray Junior High are eligible to apply for the stipend through Colquitt Regional. After reviewing the applications, up to $2,500 is awarded to the recipient(s) to provide unbudgeted monies for continued education, professional development opportunities or student learning projects.
Hospital Authority Chairman Maureen A. Yearta, Ed.D echoed Matney with her pride in the stipend and the importance of investing in the Colquitt County school system and community.
“The Teacher Partnership Stipend is a great way to help teachers and students alike,” said Yearta. “Extracurricular educational opportunities are extremely important for progressing our school system and I am proud to serve on a board that actively looks for ways to facilitate educational endeavors.”
Teacher Partnership Stipend applications for the 2018-2019 are now open and available at colquittregional.com/the-foundation/scholarships until April 15, 2019.