- Lenoir County Public Schools
English teacher wins $4,900 technology grant
For the second consecutive year, a teacher at North Lenoir High School has snagged one of the state’s most competitive technology grants, the CenturyLink Teachers and Technology grant.
To make the $4,900 grant award even more extraordinary, it went not to a science or math teacher but to an English teacher, Reginald Dawson. He plans to use the funds to integrate the study of the novel “Code Talker” with introductory lessons for his students in computer coding.
It’s unusual for a high school to win back-to-back grants and particularly unusual for the grant to focus on a subject like English, according to Derek T. Kelly, government affairs director for CenturyLink, who presented the grant award to Dawson at North Lenoir on Wednesday.
“When you get into high schools, a lot of times it’s the ag department, engineering or science,” Kelly said. “It’s fun to start seeing that integration (of curricula) at the high school level.”
On average, Kelly said, 10 percent of the grant applications are funded. Nationally, the CenturyLink Clark M. Williams Foundation awarded 180 grants valued at $750,000 in 34 states this year. There were about 1,300 grant applications submitted.
Dawson’s application, “Code Talker to Code Writer,” presents his concept as “a unique approach to integrating technology into a high school English classroom. My vision is to integrate technology seamlessly into my curriculum in a manner that will support students’ other academic areas: math, science and history.”
“Code Talker” by Joseph Bruchac explores the role that Navajos in the U.S. Marines played in battlefield communications by using the unbreakable code that was their native language.
In addition to reading the novel and completing related research projects, Dawson’s students will collaborate with students in an AP computer coding class at North Lenoir and will learn the basics of the Apple coding program Swift Playground.
“This project will allow students to see how their English skills can complement their math, historical, science and technology skills to be used in a powerful manner,” Dawson wrote in his application.
At the check presentation, Dawson acknowledged the assistance of North Lenoir’s digital learning specialist Elizabeth Thompson in helping him bring a technology lesson into an English class. Thompson was last year’s CenturyLink grant winner at North Lenoir. The consecutive grant wins have made nearly $9,800 available to the school for classroom use.
“We try to get our kids a little ahead of the game,” Dawson told Kelly. “We’re certainly appreciative of this grant.”
The $4,900 will provide Dawson’s classes with a MacBook laptop, copies of the novel, Sphero robots to help test and refine their coding skills and sundry supplies.
The Teachers and Technology Grant Program recognizes innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects in the classroom. Grants funded through the CenturyLink program will provide a range of equipment to classrooms this year, including robotics, drones, virtual reality mechanisms, laptops and microscopes.
Photo caption: Reginald Dawson, second from right, an English teacher at North Lenoir High School, accepts a grant award for $4,900 from Derek T. Kelly of CenturyLink during a surprise check presentation Wednesday at the high school. On hand for the presentation were, from left, North Lenoir digital learning specialist Elizabeth Thompson – a CenturyLink grant winner last year – and principal Gil Respess and assistant principal Lynn Morris.