Cullman City Schools awarded $400K for STEM initiatives

Cullman City Schools students work on STEM activities earlier this year. Thanks to the Safer Communities Act grant funds, these programs will be expanded even more. (Cullman City Schools)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman City Schools is set to expand its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) offerings in the coming years with dedicated staff and resources, thanks to new federal grant funds.

The $400,000 grant is being awarded as part of the federal Safer Communities Act, a bipartisan effort to prioritize foundational wellness outcomes for students, parents, families and community members.

The grant funds in Cullman City Schools will be used to fund several initiatives, including hiring a STEM Lab teacher, organizing summer STEM camps, book studies, parent workshops, family STEM nights and providing instructional supplies for college and career fairs. The district also plans to integrate Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) principles into STEM learning environments to improve mental and physical health, stress management, creativity, social skills and cognitive skills.

The initiative is aiming to create STEM Labs at both East Elementary and West Elementary, which will be equipped with Vex Robots, circuits, drones, 3-D printers and a Maker’s Space wall, where students can practice SEL principles, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, effective communication and other cognitive regulation and emotional processes. A sensory section will also be included for students to de-escalate and practice emotional regulation.

“Our district places an emphasis on the importance of partnering with students, families, community members and businesses to develop essential social and emotional skills that will aid students in moving forward in their lives,” Cullman City Schools Secondary Curriculum and CTE Coordinator Lindsay Brannon said.

Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff credited Brannon for spearheading the effort to pursue the Safer Communities Act grant, noting these initiatives will make a substantial impact for students.

“The district aims to implement a Foundational Wellness System of Supports that will develop social, emotional, and academic skills of our students,” Kallhoff said. “The district is committed to creating a safe environment for children’s growth and learning by addressing their foundational wellness needs. You want to have a school where kids feel safe. When you do that and they’re safe, not just physically but emotionally safe, that’s when you open up the gates for learning.”