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How one Memphis school is hoping to provide a fun 'twist' on learning with TVA grant money

“I think it is a big reward that we earned because it can help benefit the learning and the things that we do to learn more,” said Kody Spight, a 4th grade student.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Wednesday, Gestalt Community Schools received $500,000 in grant money from TVA’s School Uplift Program.

The money would provide energy efficient upgrades to the schools.

One school to benefit from the grant is getting an alternative to learning that has educators excited.

“I went into teaching because growing up, I saw so many of my classmates struggling with the traditional learning environment,” said Heather Hicks, Power Center Academy Elementary School 4th grade science teacher. "You sat there studying, taking notes, listening to a teacher talk, so I wanted to go into teaching, so that I could do it differently."

Power Center Academy Elementary is part of the Gestalt Community Schools public charter network.

“I think it’s great because 35-percent of energy that’s used daily in residential areas and commercial areas is wasted. I think it’s important to educate our scholars now, so they can make better decisions for our future and help save the resources and the energy consumption that we do,” said Hicks.

Power Center Academy will get new lighting and HVAC upgrades.

Of the funds, $100,000 will go to the elementary school for STEM projects and an alternative learning environment.

“The funds will be used towards an outdoor classroom,” said Hicks.

It's a fun twist on learning.

“It’s important for them to have a hands-on learning experience so they can hold onto the knowledge they’re learning to make better decisions,” said Hicks.

“I think it is a big reward that we earned because it can help benefit the learning and the things that we do to learn more,” said Kody Spight, a 4th grade student.

“I love going outside, but when it gets too hot. I can’t stand outside when it’s too hot,” said Spight.

Fortunately for Spight, the outdoor classroom is just part of the changes.

The elementary school will also get more materials and resources for STEM projects.

“I’ve been teaching STEM for two years now. I absolutely love the engagement that comes from the kids. They’re always excited about learning. With the hands-on experiences, they truly grasp on to what I’m teaching and they’re able to apply what they know and make it even better than what I anticipated them to do,” said Hicks.

“If you get to understand the technology, then you can do a whole lot with it. In science, you get to understand. Science is a big part in mechanics. You can understand mechanics better,” said Spight.  

“STEM represents our future. It’s a future of endless possibilities,” said Hicks.

They are powering the untraditional to fuel all that is achievable.

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