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July 11, 2017
Governor announces grant to expand SPARK Academy in Athens

MONTGOMERY— A $198,615 grant announced by Gov. Kay Ivey is helping the Athens city school system expand a science and technology program to include students in grades 2-4.

The school system will use the Appalachian Regional Commission grant to purchase supplies and equipment and hire new teachers to expand the program at Cowan Elementary School. Currently the program, called Scientific Project-based Academic Research by Kids Academy (SPARK), covers grades K-2 with 98 students enrolled. The expansion will bring that number to 400, school officials said.

“By giving students new ways to learn, SPARK Academy will help them succeed in today’s world,” Ivey said. “I commend Athens City Schools for its efforts through this program to make learning more of a hands-on experience to solve real-world problems.”

SPARK Academy is a project-based, hands-on curriculum focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics that teaches problem solving and critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems connected to students’ community. An early analysis shows that students attending SPARK Academy had substantially higher attendance rates than the previous year, school system officials said.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the ARC program in Alabama along with a wide range of other programs that support law enforcement, economic development, workforce development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management. 

“As a former teacher, Gov. Ivey passionately encourages innovation in education with programs that help move Alabama forward,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “These children and teachers are working toward creating more academic success for their school and laying the framework for a bright future. Under the leadership of Gov. Ivey, ADECA is pleased to partner with the ARC and Athens City Schools to assist in this program.”

The ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. During a period of October 2015 to January 2017 ARC has funded 64 projects in Alabama totaling $11.2 million and resulted in 900 jobs and trained or educated 14,000 students or workers for new or advancement jobs. 

Ivey notified Trey Holladay, Athens city schools superintendent, the grant had been approved. Matching funds of $440,000 will supplement the grant.


Contact: Russell Sellers, Mike Presley

For more information, visit:  http://www.adeca.alabama.gov/