The 2021 SRR STAR grants totaled over $15,000 to help advance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum in elementary school classrooms. Most of the teachers who won grants are pictured here behind Breidenbach and Schmitz.
The 2021 SRR STAR grants totaled over $15,000 to help advance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum in elementary school classrooms. Most of the teachers who won grants are pictured here behind Breidenbach and Schmitz.

AIKEN, S.C. – The liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS) recently awarded more than $15,000 in educational grants to local elementary school teachers, helping to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum in their classrooms.

Eighteen elementary school teachers in five area counties around SRS — Aiken, Allendale, and Edgefield counties in South Carolina, and Columbia and Richmond counties in Georgia — won Savannah River Remediation (SRR) Students/Teachers Achieving Results (STAR) grants to provide funding for innovative approaches to teaching STEM areas.

Phil Breidenbach, SRR president and project manager, said giving back to teachers is a priority for SRR.

“Teachers are instrumental in molding and developing innovative minds that will be the future of our workforce and communities,” Breidenbach said. “The dedication teachers have shown to their students, especially during the current COVID-19 environment, has proven just how instrumental they are."

He continued, "These teachers have demonstrated ownership, one of SRR’s core values, through positive attitudes and giving their best to students every day, whether in person or through virtual learning. These STEM grants enable teachers to provide students with opportunities that go above the standard curriculum.”

The teachers will use the grants to purchase kits or programs to help supplement curriculum in STEM areas. For example, this year one of the teachers will be purchasing a kit that will introduce 75 4- and 5-year-old students who are considered “at risk” and on or below poverty level to hands-on learning of mathematics. The kit will provide hands-on manipulatives, music, and rhymes that make math concepts relevant and meaningful for young children.

A team of SRR employees reviewed the grant proposals submitted this year and selected the entries to receive the grants based upon excellence in teaching to enhance elementary school science and mathematics programs.

The 2021 SRR STAR grant winners are:

  • Esther Blake and Michelle Seigler, Chukker Creek Elementary, Aiken, South Carolina
  • Laura Herring, Douglas Elementary, Trenton, South Carolina
  • Haneefah Hicks, Fairfax Elementary, Fairfax, South Carolina
  • Lisa Spears, Hammond Hill Elementary, North Augusta, South Carolina
  • Brandi Harley, North Aiken Elementary, Aiken, South Carolina
  • Carrie Lucas, Warrenville Elementary, Warrenville, South Carolina
  • Traci Smith, Mossy Creek Elementary, North Augusta, South Carolina
  • Taylor Harling, Redcliffe Elementary, Aiken, South Carolina
  • Julie Corbett, Cyril B. Busbee Elementary, Wagener, South Carolina
  • Christi McWaters, East Aiken School of the Arts, Aiken, South Carolina
  • Ramey Fulmer, J. D. Lever Elementary, Aiken, South Carolina
  • April Layfield, Millbrook Elementary, Aiken, South Carolina
  • Jessica Coleman, W. E. Parker Elementary, Edgefield, South Carolina
  • Erica Cox, Blue Ridge Elementary, Evans, Georgia
  • Sydney Onate, Evans Elementary, Evans, Georgia
  • Angelica Harris, Richmond Hill K-8, Augusta, Georgia
  • Mary Jo Weegar, Copeland Elementary, Augusta, Georgia

-Contributor: Tina Melton