HONOLULU – Stevenson Middle School STEM teacher Patricia Morgan received a $100,000 grant from Farmers Insurance in a surprise award ceremony to the cheers of over 650 students in a school-wide assembly. Morgan is one of five teachers nationwide, and the first ever from Hawaii, to win the generous $100,000 grant from Farmers Insurance in its annual Thank America's Teachers® Dream Big Teacher Challenge®. Morgan's winning proposal to create an "Innovative Invention Imaginarium" to boost STEM learning at Stevenson Middle was ranked in the winning top five selections over hundreds of proposals from teachers across the US.
The grant monies will go towards making Morgan's proposed Imaginarium, a dedicated learning space for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning, a reality. The Imaginarium envisions providing students with computers and specialized equipment to be able to dive deeply into diverse STEM technology topics such as coding, computer aided design, 3D printing, lasers cutting, video game design and robotics. These hands-on learning opportunities will provide Stevenson Middle School students with resources to spark an early interest in STEM learning that can pave the way to high-technology career paths.
"This is going to make such a huge impact at our school, there's so many things on our list to do," said awardee Patricia Morgan. "We have big plans first to get brand new iMacs to support coding, 3D modeling and 3D printing and we're so excited to be able offer that to our awesome group of students."
The Imaginarium project will serve as a pipeline network connecting the feeder elementary schools and nearby Roosevelt High School to enhance 21st century career skills. The project will include collaboration between the schools, where elementary, middle and high school students will coach their younger peers on such topics as engineering design challenges, coding and building computers from electronic waste. One goal of the program is to provide students with innovative service-learning experiences that will shape leaders who actively give back to the community.
"It's very important to start STEM learning early with our students, this is when we start to pique their interest, have them explore possible future careers and become 21st century problem solvers," said Principal Linell Dilwith. "We are really excited that our proposal includes a K-12 continuum, where we'll invite our feeder schools into Stevenson Middle to be mentored by our current students, as well as bringing high schoolers back to Stevenson to mentor our students."
"Farmers really looks at the teachers in our community and they are some of the most dedicated employees that we have here in Hawaii," said Bill Doherty of Farmers Insurance Hawaii. "We are inspired by the work of our teachers and we want to give back to the community in programs like Thank America's Teachers, to get teachers and the community involved."
Farmers Insurance's Thank America's Teachers initiative awards more than one million in educational grants to teachers across the nation each year in support of proposals and projects that will make an impactful difference in the education of students. This year, 180 teachers will be awarded $2,500 grants to fund classroom projects. Five teachers with larger proposals, including Morgan's, will be awarded $100,000 grants in Farmers' Dream Big Teacher Challenge. Teachers' proposals are individually reviewed and posted for public voting online.
"Everyone voted and worked very hard on social media to get people voting," said Principal Linell Dilwith. "We want to thank the whole Stevenson community and our Makiki and Papakolea communities, everyone who stood behind us and voted every day so our kids could benefit from these funds."
The surprise award presentation was made in a school-wide student assembly, which included a proclamation from Mayor Kirk Caldwell naming November 30, 2017, as "Patricia Morgan Day," and congratulatory remarks from Governor David Ige, state Senator Brian Taniguchi and state Representatives Sylvia Luke and Della Au Belatti.
Since its inception in 2014, the initiative has invested over three million dollars in educational grants. For more information on the Farmers Insurance Thank America's Teachers initiative, visit www.farmers.com/thank-americas-teachers. View Morgan's project submission and the surprise award ceremony below.