The upcoming school year will include brand new experiences for students at one East Tennessee school.
Those involved said it is an honor any school can achieve. According to teachers a $25,000 grant will forever change "Green Magnet Math and Science Academy" in near Downtown Knoxville. Mr. Herman Sutton found out his kids won the extreme makeover last April.
Weeks of planning are finally complete. "Parents, teachers, aunts, uncles grandparents - we're all stakeholders, and all of value the education of our children, and that's what this is all about," said Sutton.
'It helps really dream, about what the ideal technology enhanced classroom looks like," said Knox County Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.
The grant helped to buy Apple's newest iPads, Mac Book Pro computers and even new curtains and paint. However, it is not about the physical things.
"It's called a classroom makeover - for $25,000, but the way I see it, it was really a stepping stone to a brighter future for every student at Green Magnet," explained Sutton.
Students and teachers saw the new classroom for the first time on Tuesday. "I think that a lot of kids like to do electronics and stuff - so it will be easier for them to learn than listening and sitting," said Kathleen Reddington.
Mr. Sutton and his students won this prize together through a video submission contest.
"Making the video, my kids and I were very excited - and we have no idea what we were going to do. We actually just barely got our video in on time," said Sutton. "We look for passion, we look for how they're going to infuse technology in the classroom, how they going to engage their kids - and his video was absolutely outstanding," explained President and CEO of ORAU Andy Page.
Oak Ridge Associated Universities funded the makeover. However, officials stress it is not a lottery. Teachers like Mr. Sutton have to explain how the technology matches state curriculum and fits into schools' learning strategies, especially for math and science. That is why ORAU said it is proud to help local schools and give kids opportunities they would have never had. Mr Sutton said the bottom line is not about the flashy electronics, it is about helping his students see beyond the present and dream ahead to the future.
Any elementary school or middle school within a fifty mile radius of Oak Ridge can enter the contest. ORAU doesn't just award the classroom makeover then disappear. All of the winning teachers keep in contact with the group for one year after the makeover as a way of tracking their progress.