GE is the gift that keeps on giving for Sequoyah Middle School. This past year the company’s GE Volunteers program spent two days at the school donating time and money to create an “eco-imaginative” outdoor classroom.
The $30,000 worth of new additions to the school consist of a greenhouse and compost area, aquatic habitat, a solar power station, improvements to the school’s trout hatchery and some repairs to the inside of the school.
The partnership between GE and Sequoyah came through the company’s commitment to support Hands On Atlanta.
Principal Brittany Cunningham said that GE’s vision of enhancing science education really matched up with the school’s idea of creating outdoor science classrooms and they’ve been wonderful partners.
“We were identified as a school for Hands On Atlanta Day and we started the communication with GE back then…we had over 200 volunteers and people from our local community,” Cunningham said.
GE has also been a sponsor and one of the largest corporate volunteer groups for Hands On Atlanta Day since 2000.
The school’s “wish list” was developed by Cunningham and the science department to foster their commitment to all forms of education and expand the students’ ability to learn by exploring and developing good observational skills.
“It gives the students a chance to experience the evolution of life, get their hands dirty and see all the different processes that they’re reading about,” Cunningham said.
GE volunteers also spent time brainstorming with school representatives to come up with ideas that Services Engineering team leader Tim Link said was a collaborative interaction between all parties, especially when it came to the greenhouse.
“We thought, ‘Well, if we’re going to do plants, how could you grow plants during the winter time?’ and a light bulb went off and we were like, ‘A greenhouse,’ and everybody said, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea,’” Link said.
Deb Barker, who oversees the GE Volunteers program in Atlanta, said that it’s very strategic for GE to volunteer their time and money to education initiatives.
“Education is one of the most important aspects to GE…with the critical shortage of engineers in America and the fact that we are more of an engineering and economic breakthrough kind of company we’ve realized that our future is dependent on the education system,” Barker said.
The company has also made a commitment to further their relationship with Sequoyah by enhancing the music program at the school.
“We’re going to look to work with them on the Little Kids Rock program, to put music back into the schools. It’s a really fun program and we’ve seen tremendous success in a number of schools,” Barker said.
The Little Kids Rock program brings free musical instruments and instruction to schools across the country without music programs.
“Music is math and there are strong correlations between math, science and music programs. So, it’s yet another way of branching out, embellishing and adding on to what we’re doing,” Barker said.