DeKalb High School of Technology South receives STEM grant

Principal, CTAE leader and Dart Foundation executive In 1984, Michigan couple William and Claire Dart took a keen interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Within the same calendar year, they established the Dart Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to placing funds directly where it matters most: the classroom.

In December 2018, one DeKalb County School District (DCSD) school partnered with the Dart Foundation to invest more than $59,000 in STEM education. DeKalb High School of Technology South was named the recipient of a Dart Foundation grant worth $59,720 on December 19, 2018, which will be used to place state-of-the-art equipment in classrooms dedicated to innovative, cutting-edge, STEM-based learning.

“It’s truly wonderful and exciting. We’re grateful for the opportunity to earn funds that go back into our manufacturing and engineering career pathways,” said Dr. Vikki Williams, principal at DeKalb High School of Technology South. “We’re the only school that offers this pathway, and we’re proud to offer a stand-alone program that’s poised to improve.”

According to Williams and instructional support specialist, Candice Little, who played a major role in obtaining the Dart Foundation grant, the funds will be used for new 3D printers, robotic arms, TNT routers, and other equipment. The improvements will allow students studying manufacturing engineering to produce such products as lamps, cell phone cases, school logos, and anything else their imaginations are able to produce.

Dr. Paul W. Camick, Career, Technical & Agricultural Education Instructional Coordinator for DCSD, said the new equipment will be installed by February 2019 at the absolute latest. Students at DeKalb High School of Technology South complete two classes per semester and the new equipment will benefit students for the majority.

The incoming equipment mirrors the technology being used currently in the manufacturing industry, meaning DCSD students who enroll in DeKalb High School of Technology South’s program are hitting the ground running upon graduation.

“We’re always striving to do what’s best for our students. We believe that students here, at our school, should have the ultimate experience in the STEM field,” Williams said. “This will be a huge opportunity for our students to be exposed to the latest equipment. The ensures that we are meeting industry standards and have the experience and knowledge needed in the industry. Technology changes so often, but we are one of the strongest districts in fulfilling that need and staying competitive.”

male student holds video cameraDeKalb High School of Technology South is one of two campuses offering nothing but CTAE instruction. Students typically spend half the day at their regular campuses and half a day dedicated to career-oriented instruction.

According to Dart Foundation Plant Manager Simon Graham, it’s in the Dart Foundation’s best interest in invest in STEM education in the communities it serves. Currently, Dart Foundation offers grants in Conyers, Social Circle, Thomaston, and Lithonia in Georgia—the same areas that it houses plants and warehouses for manufacturing.

As a plant manager, he said he is always looking for new workers that have gained an exposure to new, ever-changing technologies. He said the need for a workforce that is engaged with this evolution is constantly growing.

“The Dart family themselves feel very strongly about supporting manufacturing education in the local communities where they have a physical presence,” Graham said. “The Dart Foundation is really interested in helping young people acquire the skills necessary to bridge into the manufacturing workspace and be successful in that career line. There is a huge potential and a huge need in industry for students that are skilled and capable. We’re excited to be able to support that.”