TUPELO- Three school districts in North Mississippi received a grant from the Toyota Wellspring Fund, part of the CREATE Foundation.
The CREATE Foundation works with teachers to develop plans and budget for career-related activities in classrooms. This year they set aside $200,000 to fund activities for teachers in Pontotoc, Union, and Lee Counties.
“Toyota Wellsprings Grant is an effort by Toyota to prepare our students in this area [North Mississippi] for engineering in the workplace, anything that would make our workers more available, more prepared,” said Asst. Principal at Plantersville Middle School, Lindsey Brett.
Brett said that in North Mississippi there are a variety of engineering employers that students could one day have the chance to work for. However, if they are not training an employable workforce than they’re not actually keeping jobs local, they’re being forced to outsource.
For Plantersville Middle School they’ll be using the money they were given to prepare their students in robotics engineering.
Statistically, in that region the median wage is $77,000 annually for anyone with a robotic degree. Computer hardware and software development also range between $79,000-$100,000
“We have a marketplace in this area, we just need to prepare our students with those skills,” said Brett.
Schools in Lee County were required to make a proposal in their application for the grant as to how they would use the money to prepare students for jobs in the future. The intent of the Wellspring grant is to aid the educational system in preparing for the workforce.
“We were extremely excited and thankful that we were going to be able to bring robots to our campus,” said Brett.
These robots will be used in an after school club where students will learn to program and operate the robots.
“We just really felt it was a great opportunity to put the type of instruction in place that is geared toward the type of work that is in the area that we feel our students are not always exposed to,” said Principal Rodney Spears. “The opportunity to have a live robot there, that they can program and learn to program, for them to see that and be able to tell that student these are the type of jobs that are in our area and you can train for them.”
Brett said many students in this area in particular, witness parents or guardians coming home from a job every day that is often exhausting. As an educator she said schools want to show the students that they can follow a career that they enjoy, and have fun with, while making a good living.
The programs that Plantersville Middle is offering in robotics will be available to all levels of students and is open to anyone who wants to get involved.
“Our school is very thankful to Toyota,” said Brett. “They’ve also provided another grant to allow us to bus the students home from school. So, not only can we offer these programs, but because of Toyota and their generosity we are able to have after school tutoring through that grant.”
“We absolutely want to thank Toyota,” said Principal Spears. “I definitely think they’re investing in the right way.”
Spears said the importance of these grants from Toyota is that students can see what kind of careers are available in the state of Mississippi. He said it allows students to focus on what they want to do after school.