Cleveland High School has received the inaugural Fitzgerald Family Foundation Innovation Award, which has given the school $15,000 to use to create a “makerspace” for students.
Foundation leader Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald presented the award to CHS Principal Autumn O’Bryan during Cleveland City Schools’ district-wide Convocation on Monday.
“Good teachers are constantly looking for new, better ways to motivate and teach their students, and, as you recognize, the ways we teach have evolved dramatically through the use of technology,” Fitzgerald said. “We can only imagine what the future holds for innovative methods, ideas and products that have still not been discovered.
“In recognizing that innovative methods must be investigated and implemented with determination to prepare our students for tomorrow’s workforce, this Innovation Award was created through the Fitzgerald Family Foundation,” he added. “We realize that what too often is missing to accomplish your innovative ideas is the ‘seed money’ for implementation.”
The competitive award of up to $15,000 is granted if the selection committee feels a school has a school-wide plan for implementing the new innovation and if “a plan for measurable impact” can be identified.
Fitzgerald said the committee carefully reviewed all applications to see which ones contained the most innovative ideas, and its members decided to present the first award to CHS.
O’Bryan said CHS will use the award money to create a “makerspace,” a space with equipment which will help students develop their science, technology, engineering and math — STEM — skills. She added CHS is also working to become a “STEM-designated school.”
“It is such an honor to receive this award,” O’Bryan said. "What we know about today’s learner is it is ever changing, and as we get our [grade] 9 to 12 students, we also know that the work we have to give them and the space we need to give them have to be innovative and exciting. We plan to use this to create a space where they can be creative and find new ways to solve both old problems and new problems. We’re really excited.”
Lynn Voelz, executive director of the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation, praised Dr. Rodney and Margo Fitzgerald for their generous, long-term commitment to local public education. As this latest award shows, they have contributed thousands to the cause over the years.