Catherine Seitzer’s campaign to reinvent the media center at Kinston High School took another big step Wednesday when Spirit AeroSystems presented her with a $10,000 grant award.
Since joining the high school faculty as media coordinator this school year, Seitzer has generated $16,200 from three separate grants, all geared toward “transforming this from just a place for books into a 21st century media center, where we offer robotics, computers, coding – really integrating that technology piece into the curriculum.”
The Spirit award will be used to purchase five computers, allowing the media center to offer STEM and basic computer coding activities, she said.
“Really what we’re trying to do is build this relationship with Spirit,” Seitzer said. “I want to see if we can collaborate on some engineering activities and get these kids interested in science and engineering.”
For Scott Reid, HR manager at Spirit’s Kinston plant who presented Seitzer with her check at the high school Wednesday, proximity already makes the aeronautics manufacturer and the high school partners in the community.
“We have a lot of people who work at the plant – 635 of them – and a lot of them live in this community and a lot have kids who go to this school,” Reid said. “This was just our way of giving back a little bit.”
Seitzer asked the Kinston plant for grant assistance after learning about the grant program at Boeing, the airplane manufacturer where years ago Spirit originated as a division of the company. “I thought, What about Spirit,” she said. “They’re here in our town. Why not reach out to see if, as a local community member, they could help us.”
Reid said he presented her request to the plant’s leadership team, which reviewed and approved it. “We just all said, this is a no-brainer. Let’s do it.” The $10,000 award could be the largest the local plant has given out. “It is pretty substantial,” Reid said. “I can’t remember anything in the past we’ve done like this.”
KHS principal Kellan Bryant said she appreciated the local Spirit plant going above and beyond. “With this $10,000 grant, we will have some resources in place for our students to want to be in our media center, so that it’s a focal point of the school,” she said.
Seitzer’s vision of a 21st century media center and hers match completely, the principal said. “We want technology available at their fingertips. We want to provide a collaborative environment for our students where they can work with hands-on activities to build on what they’re already doing in their classrooms.”
Previously, Seitzer won a $1,200 Bright Ideas grant from N.C. Electric Cooperatives that paid for a media creation station with green screen and accessories necessary for broadcasting. She followed that award with a $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant; that money is earmarked for new carpet, paint for the walls and other refurbishing work, all to be done this summer.
“When students come back in the fall,” Seitzer said, “this room’s going to be completely different.”