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State super awards Liberty Elementary STEM certification
Liberty Elementary students welcome State Superintendent Richard Woods to the school Wednesday. - photo by Lainey Standiford

Excitement was high at Liberty Elementary School as students, faculty, staff and special guests filed in for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) certification program, with special guest State Superintendent Dr. Richard Woods.

The STEM recognition, held at LES, drew attendance many notable people including: U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, State Rep. Al Williams, Liberty Board of Education Chair Lily Baker, Vice-Chair Verdell Jones and Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry.

LES principal Chris Anderson opened the ceremony, following an enthusiastic welcome and explanation of STEM from LES students.

“STEM provides a challenging learning environment through the integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to maximize each student’s potential,” Anderson wrote in a letter provided to guests. 

“This is a big day,” Anderson said. “STEM is so successful. It’s going to prepare you with different skills that are all key components today in the workforce.”

According to a press release sent by Chief Academic Officer Patti Crane, LES is only the 35th elementary school, and 60th K-12 school to receive this certification, out of 2,200 schools in the state. Currently, LES is one of only two schools with the certification located south of Macon.

Anderson said the new STEM program brings validation to the hard work of teachers and students. It will provide more collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving, which are soft skills crucial to student’s development and success, he said.

Woods took the stage, commenting that events like these are among his favorite school visits. This year, Liberty Elementary has developed a strong STEM culture, Woods said, and LES provides rigorous math, science and instruction to all students, regardless of gender.

“Females in the schools are able to articulate with confidence and assume leadership roles in the in the projects they’re involved with,” Woods continued. “STEM certification is extremely hard to get. On average, it takes about three to five years to make this happen. But this does not happen in isolation. Without leadership and support, things like this do not take place. Leadership is to be commended for putting this on the radar and moving it forward.”

Woods congratulated both teachers and the principal for their work in establishing a beneficial program at LES. A thank you goes to the teachers, he said, for without their “buy-in,” this would just be another program.

“On behalf of myself and the Department of Education of the state of Georgia, I would like to congratulate Liberty Elementary on becoming STEM certified,” Woods said, as he unveiled a banner declaring LES a STEM school.

After the applause died down, Congressman Carter spoke.

“This is quite an accomplishment,” Carter said. “Out of 2,200 schools in Georgia, only 60 are STEM certified, and only two below Macon, and we’re one of them. I want to thank all of the students for all of your hard work. You’ve made this possible. This didn’t just happen, it was a lot of work and you deserve credit for that.”

Coastal Electric Cooperative officials made a surprise visit to LES to award the school’s “Bright Ideas” grant winners. The grants are funded through members of CEC who participate in “Operation Roundup”—a voluntary program where members allow their bills to be rounded up to the next whole dollar, according to CEC’s website.

Two teachers at LES were awarded a total of $3500 for their projects. Second grade teacher Jessica Cook’s project is “More than Just a Garden.” Fourth grade STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) teacher Natalie Mondesir’s project is “Hummingbird?” It consists of a mini motherboard and circuitry that makes inanimate objects animate, Mondesir explained.

“Thank you so much for letting us come and be here with you today,” a CEC representative said. “Your teachers come up with something new and different to teach you. On behalf of Coastal Electric Cooperative and its foundation, congratulations.”

Dr. Perry congratulated Liberty Elementary’s faculty, staff and students.

“This was an awesome day to celebrate students, parents and educators,” Perry said. “This proves in education we are leaders throughout the state and nation. We have commitment from teachers, students, and parents. This validates we’re serious about excellence in education, and we are committed to giving our students a superior education.”

“We are on the cutting edge,” Chairman Baker said. “Technology, engineering, science, and mathematics, everything for our children, getting them prepared for the future. I’m excited, I’m excited for our children and what the future will hold for them.”

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