The Georgia Department of Education is launching the Partnership for Rural Growth, an initiative to expand the resources available to public school districts in rural Georgia.
“More and more Georgians are recognizing the importance of a ‘rural renaissance’ to the future of our state – and K-12 education must be a driver of that,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “As a longtime resident of rural Georgia, and a former South Georgia principal and teacher, I want to make sure every single student – in every part of our state – has access to opportunities that will prepare them for a successful future. Through the Partnership for Rural Growth, we’re working to eliminate the resource gaps our rural schools and districts often face, and to make sure K-12 education is spurring renewal in rural Georgia.”
Major components of the Partnership for Rural Growth include:
Grants to establish or expand fine arts programs
The fine arts are a critical component of a well-rounded K-12 education. GaDOE is providing $10,000 stART grants to 35 rural school districts to assist them in expanding the fine arts opportunities available to their students. In each selected district, the funding will be used specifically to create new arts education programs or expand existing programs.
STEM and STEAM coordinators in Southwest and Southeast Georgia
More than 1,150 Georgia schools have expressed interest in pursuing STEM or STEAM certification. To assist rural schools in expanding and improving their offerings for students in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, GaDOE is funding STEM/STEAM coordinators based in Southwest and Southeast Georgia.
Workshops to increase access to AP, Dual Enrollment, and Gifted coursework
GaDOE is partnering with the College Board to offer free workshops for eighth-, ninth-, and tenth-grade teachers in 14 rural districts. The two- and three-day workshops are designed to help teachers prepare their students for accelerated opportunities like Advanced Placement (AP), Dual Enrollment, and Gifted courses. ELA, math, science, and social studies teachers will be equipped with engaging resources for their students and meaningful feedback to show them where each student needs additional support and focus. The goal is to significantly increase the number of students in each target district who can access and complete college-level work before leaving high school.
Grants to help schools teach entrepreneurship
GaDOE is providing up to 40 $11,000 Entrepreneurship, Enterprise & Education (E3) grants to rural school districts. The grants are designed to support entrepreneurship education – lessons and curriculum that prepare students to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities after high school. The funding can be used to plan, develop, and implement lessons and curriculum; provide content-specific professional development for teachers; and purchase equipment needed to support entrepreneurship education – for example, computer software, creative supplies, and devices like 3-D printers.
A network for school improvement for school and district leaders in rural Georgia
GaDOE is establishing the Rural Education Leadership Network, which will connect school- and district-level leaders in rural school districts. Through the network, the Southern Regional Education Board will work with education leaders to identify common needs and strategies to address them, then provide training and expert assistance, at no cost to the schools or districts.
It is a core priority of the Georgia Department of Education to provide students with a well-rounded education, including opportunities like fine arts, STEM and STEAM, advanced coursework, and career tech. Through the Partnership for Rural Education and other key initiatives – including L4GA grants to support literacy learning, funding for wraparound services, FastTrack grants for career education labs, grants for computer coding courses in underserved areas, and more – the Department is working to bridge resource gaps and ensure those opportunities are available to every student, in every part of the state.