Nearly $100K Grant Provides Support for CCSD’s CTAE Programs

Throne and students

Cedar Shoals High School agriscience teacher Julie Throne and a few of her students eagerly received quite the treat March 24 when AgPro Companies of Athens delivered a John Deere 2025R compact utility tractor to the school campus for Throne’s class.

“It is going to give our students more opportunities to use equipment they would see in operation in the horticulture industry along with at warehouses and other places,” said Throne. “It’s just going to help them learn more about how to use this equipment and teach them good safety practices while using it.”

The more than $19,000 tractor was purchased by the Clarke County School District as part of a $99,829 CTAE (Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education) large equipment grant awarded by the Georgia Department of Education in October 2021 through American Rescue Plan ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Competitive Grant funds. The tractor and several other purchases through the grant will help enhance the district’s CTAE programs, specifically the agricultural and health science pathways, by providing students with hands-on experience using state-of-the-art, industry-standard equipment.

Tomás Ramirez, CCSD’s CTAE Director, said the grant award adds significant value to the quality of the district’s CTAE programs and brings them closer to industry certification, a major priority for the district.  

“This grant award allowed us to acquire large equipment selected by teachers that would normally be cost-prohibitive to purchase in many school districts,” said Ramirez.

The new agricultural science equipment will blend agriculture and technology, including at Clarke Central High School where the “FarmBot” project will guide students in designing and constructing a raised planter bed and garden robot. Students will learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills as well as planning, designing, and construction skills as they complete tasks like planting seeds, testing soil moisture, and watering and weeding between plants.

Additional grant funding will be used to bring instructional coherence to the district’s middle school CTAE programs through the purchase of electronic soil labs for all four middle schools. The labs allow students to learn to test soil and analyze results for 15 different soil factors.

Meanwhile, equipment purchased for the health sciences pathway at the Athens Community Career Academy will give students real-world health care experiences that will help them make connections in the didactic curriculum being taught. In particular, the lab equipment purchases will help students prepare for CNA (certified nurse aid) testing.

“I am proud of the teachers who worked arduously in helping to write this competitive grant,” said Brannon Gaskins, Chief Academic Officer for CCSD. “I’m excited that each piece of equipment connects directly to course standards and to the knowledge and skills our students will learn as they prepare for college and the workforce.”

Click here for a full list of equipment purchased by CCSD with the grant.