Mantua – Schools across the nation are looking to provide more STEAM opportunities (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathmatics) to their children. “America is turning to innovation to ensure a prosperous future, and it’s important for us to expose our students to these types of opportunities”, acknowledged CIS Principal Michelle Gerbrick. Spurred on by a desire to give Crestwood kids that advantage, as well as an inspirational summer read entitled, ‘Renegade Leadership,” Gerbrick and her leadership team, got to work amidst their regular responsibilities and in spite of budget cuts, to determine the ideal tools needed and identifying potential grants to make those dreams a reality.

Called the Educational Opportunities team, this group is comprised of Gerbrick, Jo Walsh-Cobb, Patty Timbrook, Kristen Patton, Monica Lazanich, Jen Wilson, Jade Giglio, Tyler Best, Lindsey Skonieczny, Sam Leonino, and community members Gregg Calhoun and Eric Hankinson. “If we didn’t have these teachers and volunteers doing this, there’s no way this awesome program could happen,” Gerbrick beamed.

The team got to work visiting local MakerSpace labs at nearby universities to select the ideal programs and tools to benefit CIS students, then set about finding ways to finance these resources. Several teachers, including Monica Lazanich and Jade Giglio, set up gofundme and donorschoose projects, while others, including Principal Gerbrick, searched potential grant opportunities. And all their hard work paid off — to date, they have received over $7,000, allowing them to purchase tools and equipment and get them in the hands of students starting this fall.

Recently Crestwood Intermediate School has launched a new, high-tech MakerSpace program. For those unfamiliar with the term, a MakerSpace is a place in which people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge. At CIS, those interests include circuitry, innovations in engineering, drone navigation, 3-D printing, MakerBot development, as well as art and design.

Through the after school program and during indoor recess and classroom enrichment times, students will have access to 3-D printers, drones, writable circuitry boards, Makey Makey Invention kits, Little Bits circuitry materials, Edison Robots, and a fully furnished broadcasting studio with iPad Pro and Green Screen for video production, as well knit and crochet tools and materials to explore textile arts.

“Our future generation of entrepreneurs and engineers will have the opportunity to learn the many facets of technology and art,” Principal Gerbrick marveled, “helping prepare them for productive and prosperous futures.”

She notes CIS staff and student appreciation for the newly designed and built shelves that house the new tools, as well as the Rural Technology Fund, PPG, and the Giving Well Family Fund who provided grant funding to give Crestwood students the opportunity to access these new tools.