Paulette is a 2015 graduate of the Parents for Public Schools (PPS) Parent Engagment Program (PEP). This multi-day training program encourages graduates to design an individual leadership plan that would improve student achievement.  Public schools are the right choice and PPS supports great teachers like Paulette!

When I became a gifted education teacher, I realized that gifted does not receive federal funds. The MS Department of Education (MDE) has suggested outcomes for intellectual gifted students and they are to have activities that will enhance our students’ critical thinking skills, explore various careers, meet the students’ social and emotional needs, research skills, leadership skills, and creative expression. I began working with my students with very limited resources.

As I reflected on my 1st year teaching INSPIRE, I realized there is so much more that my students can be exposed to that will be aligned with MDE’s expectations. I sought out the process of incorporating robotics into our district’s gifted curriculum. Although, my colleagues were not familiar with robotics, they trusted my judgement and we began to make strides in implementation.

I knew the district did not have sufficient funds to support our robotics program so I decided to reach out to local companies and develop partnerships. We were successful in establishing a partnership with the MS State Extension 4H program with their robotics program. My students were initially introduced to Dash and Dot robots. I developed a letter requesting funds to purchase them and two local companies made it possible. My students and I were very excited. The dash and dot robots were age appropriate; however, I felt that my older students should be challenged more.

I researched the Vex IQ robots and wrote a match grant to incorporate Vex IQ in our classroom. This effort was quite successful. I reached out to the Engineering/Robotics Instructor at the Vocational Center and her students served as tutors to assist my students in building their robot. They also talked to them about programming.

I was quite excited about the response and the support we received so I created a Donors Choose page to seek out donations to support robotics in our classroom. Through Donors Choose, my classroom has received donations from anonymous donors, families, and friends to fully fund various robotics, STEM related projects. Our latest success was to receive a $600.00 donation from Sonic’s Limeades for Learning Campaign. This donation, in conjunction with requests to parents, family, and friends, aided my classroom in receiving ten other robots known as Ozobots.

Incorporating robotics into our program has assisted us in enhancing it and student impact has been great. The students have gained a greater appreciation for teamwork and developed a more positive attitude towards problem solving. The robotics initiative has also allowed our students to become familiar with various careers and apply real life concepts.

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