“We’re trying to do something different with some of our existing resources and redeploying them so that we can get new ideas from the principals and the teachers, not from us,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said. “I think the community would be excited that we are taking some of our current dollars and redirecting them to try and spur some innovation.”
The Promising Practices Competitive Grant will be awarded to 10 schools “promising practice that is creative and innovative in approach,” according to Chief Academic Officer Dr. Judi Jones’ description of the grant in a letter to Hinojosa last week.
Hinojosa said Jones introduced the grant idea to him a few months ago when his staff began revising the Strategic Plan that was originally set to run through 2014.
“We said, ‘Look, what do we need to do to try and get these things going in our district?’ It just kind of came from her division, her staff. She brought it to us and we said, ‘Oh yeah, it’s a great idea,’” Hinojosa said.
Each school can apply for up to $35,000 to implement the ideas for the 2012-13 school year. Schools were notified two weeks ago about the grant, for which applications are due Aug. 17.
“(The grant) provides them the opportunity to think about innovative ways to instruct our students and to try them out and learn if they work,” Jones said. “If we find some outstanding practices that can be replicated in other schools across the county, there will be the opportunity for those receiving the grants to share with their colleagues the best ways to implement them.”
Schools can apply for the grant under any of the following categories: cultivating a positive environment, incorporating STEM initiatives, expanding literacy, innovative assessment practices, building leadership capacity and instructional innovations.
The funding can be used for an array of things, including approved technology needs, substitute teachers for teacher training, materials and supplies, contracted services and instructor pay.
Jones said a team of central office staff will review the applications.
Hinojosa said the idea for the grant did not come from any lessons learned at the Model Schools Conference in Orlando, Fla., the last week of June. Nearly 150 Cobb Schools employees attended the four-day conference to learn more about technology-based learning and innovative teaching methods.