Cobb Teachers Pitch Innovative Ideas, Win $74,000 in Cobb Tank Grants

Teachers pitch their ideas on how to advance student learning at schools across the Cobb County School District.  

By: Nan Kiel

It’s not every day that visitors see furry bunnies inside the Cobb County School District Board Room, but Peter, Paul, and Harry the bunnies were there for a special reason—to advocate for their student friends at Baker Elementary School 

They were there to help Baker teacher Kimberly Hutcheson explain why she needed $10,000 to fund the school’s outdoor LIFE lab. Hutcheson wasn’t the only educator attempting to sell an innovative idea to impact learning.  

More than a dozen brave teachers and their students, including Hutcheson, recently stepped before a panel of Cobb Tank judges to pitch their ideas on how to advance student learning at schools across the Cobb County School District.  

Hutcheson and her fellow educators so wowed the judges with their ideas that the judges voted to fund every project pitched to them. In total, the judges awarded $74,000 in grants. That’s an increase over the winners of last year’s Cobb Tank.  

“Through the Cobb Tank grant competition, we were able to provide much-needed funding to support the dreams of dedicated educators who are passionate about going above and beyond for their students,” explained Dr. Sally Creel, STEM and Innovation supervisor.   

Cobb Tank is the brainchild of Cobb Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and is modeled after the popular TV show, “Shark Tank,” where a panel of judges, dubbed “sharks,” determine which projects to fund. 

This year’s judges included Cobb’s Teacher of the Year, Fred Veeder, Assistant Superintendent Christian SuttlePowder Springs Elementary Principal, Debbie BroadnaxMcCleskey Middle School sixth-grader Javan Campbell; Mark Justice, director of education and community relations at Cobb EMC; and Dr. Roeisha Worthy, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering at Kennesaw State University. 

In addition to the trio of bunnies, teachers pleaded their case for funds to support sensory gardens at Keheley Elementary School, Kemp Elementary School, and Lost Mountain Middle School 

Lassiter High School teachers advocated for $8,255 to support a sensory and calming room at the school. Envisioning a classroom where students work at their own pace with the support of a teacher, Pebblebrook High School teacher Kenya Sailor explained to the judges why they should fund her concept for a “T.E.A.M. Player classroom” to increase student success. 

With the funds that teacher Michelle Yoo secured, Keheley Elementary School students will be on their way to creating a video production classroom. Maria Braswell hopes to spark the creativity and writing bug in students at Teasley Elementary School with the use of her grant funds. Braswell isn’t only looking to boost her students’ engagement inside the classroom, she also thinks that her plan to increase students’ interest in writing will lead to higher test scores and their future success. 

It’s ideas like Braswell’s that make Cobb Tank impactful. Cobb Tank is designed to encourage teachers to take a step beyond the pages of a textbook and try new ways to help students succeed, and that’s exactly what they are doing.

Dr. Sally Creel, Supervisor
STEM and Innovative Practice

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