By Lindsey Derrick
Dalton Public Schools
Cheers from students and staff rang out in the halls of Brookwood Elementary School recently as they learned, during a live broadcast, the school has been named a finalist in the 2013 Georgia STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education Awards program.
The program is sponsored by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), the state’s leading association dedicated to the promotion and economic advancement of Georgia’s technology industry.
The announcement was made during a special press conference telecast presented by TAG in collaboration with Georgia Public Broadcasting and the STEM Education Awards broadcast sponsors, Cisco Systems Inc. and the federal Department of Commerce-Economic Development Association.
The school is being recognized for the efforts it took to promote science, technology, engineering and math on May 3. Gov. Nathan Deal set aside that day as STEM Day in the state. Brookwood staff took all of their students to 18 local businesses to see what actually goes on behind the scenes and to learn how math, science and technology are used every day in local businesses.
“We wanted to show kids as young as kindergarten that STEM is important and is available in our community,” said Celeste Martin, Brookwood’s principal who started her tenure at the school this year.
Kindergarten teacher Dana Baxter said STEM Day was a big learning experience. Her class went to Carniceria Loa, a local grocery store, and put prices on items and counted merchandise such as canned goods.
“They’ve all been to a grocery store before, but they’ve never seen math in action,” Baxter said. “You’re not learning to count just for the sake of counting. You’re actually using it. It’s something you can’t produce in a school setting.”
Sarah Forberger, 8, who went to a local frozen yogurt eatery, the Sweet Spot, with her class, said she never realized all that went into making the shop tick.
“There are lots of steps to it,” Forberger said of running the shop. “There are all these machines and steps you have to do right. I never knew math was at the Sweet Spot.”
TAG officials selected the finalists after looking at what the schools did on May 3.
“We had to tell what we did and how it went, and then answer a questionnaire,” said Martin.
Martin said the anticipation grew when TAG officials kept following up with more questions.
“I tried to stay realistic, because there were hundreds of other schools that did wonderful, but I was hopeful,” she said. “When I got the news, I was ecstatic.”
Brookwood is one of five finalists in the elementary school category. The other finalists in the category are May Howard Elementary in Savannah, Sope Creek Elementary in Marietta, Honey Creek Elementary in Rockdale and Hightower Elementary in Doraville.
“The 18 partners were the ones who made this a success,” Martin said. “They’re the reason why we got this, so we want to share this with the community.”
Martin is also happy that Brookwood stood out among many other larger schools (three of the five finalists are metro Atlanta area schools).
“It’s time for Dalton, Georgia, to get some recognition,” Martin said. “I’m glad we get to bring that to the local area.”
The winners will be announced in Savannah on Sept. 27 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.