Innovation, Education, and Partnership

Carol Tharpe is the principal at Grenada Upper Elementary in Grenada, Mississippi, which serves grades 4 and 5. The school piloted PLTW Launch for the 2016-17 school year and was a PLTW Launch Distinguished School for the 2018-19 school year.

Grenada School District’s commitment to innovation began decades ago with the creation of an interactive museum, the Kidzeum, and a hands-on science exploration center, the Discovery Lab, in the elementary schools. Building on these outstanding programs, the district recently added a PreK Learning Blocks program, implemented Project Lead The Way in every school, and earned the coveted District of Innovation status.      

When my school, Grenada Upper Elementary School (GUES), piloted PLTW Launch, I was impressed with the student-centered, engaging learning experiences. I encouraged the expansion of the program to the school’s Discovery Lab in 2017-18. Discovery Lab Director Taylor Buchannan became a PLTW Launch Lead Teacher and soon every student at GUES experienced lessons that inspired them in STEM.  

In 2019-20, expansion of the program was made possible by a grant from Entergy that helped us obtain materials for more hands-on learning activities. However, GUES and Entergy didn’t stop there.  

GUES hosted a multi-district PLTW Launch Transformational Training event sponsored by Entergy. At this event, 24 teachers from Desoto County School District, Hinds County School District, Vicksburg-Warren County School District, and Grenada School District became PLTW Launch Classroom Teachers. This training event highlights the shared commitment of GUES and Entergy to prepare students for success in life and work and to lend a helping hand to educators across the state.   

Preparing teachers to transform their classrooms really paid off! After completing the training, teachers went back to their home districts and schools to create dynamic learning experiences for students. This collaborative undertaking had far reaching benefits as South Park Elementary in the Vicksburg-Warren School District and Gary Road Elementary in the Hinds County School District also earned the PLTW Launch Distinguished School award.  

“When teachers are given the training, tools, and opportunities to open the minds of eager, young explorers in new ways, exciting things happen,” Entergy MS President and CEO Haley Fisackerly said. “We’re proud of the well-deserved recognition given to Grenada Elementary and applaud the accomplishments of their students and teachers. We are proud to invest in their futures.”  

We are grateful to Entergy for their continued support of quality education and are excited to partner with them to increase the skill set of our teachers by training them to teach PLTW, which has helped them feel more confident and creative with hands-on activities and lessons.

“The Project Lead The Way training that Entergy provided has greatly influenced my ability to creatively implement hands-on learning opportunities in the Discovery Lab,” Buchannan said. “These experiences not only educate, but also inspire, excite, and advance students’ learning to levels I never thought possible. The Project Lead The Way curriculum is a fun and engaging way to aid the progression of knowledge for students at all levels. The modules they provide promote comprehension and retention of difficult scientific concepts. I am so thankful that Entergy chose to support our district and provide the means necessary to train our teachers on the implementation of the Project Lead The Way learning materials.”    

The program has contributed to our students’ academic success and our school’s overall academic success, which has increased our testing outcomes.  

PLTW is part of Grenada School District and Entergy’s plan to create and sustain thriving communities by preparing students with the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in any career path they choose. The biggest winners are the students that gain transportable knowledge and skills in real-world learning experiences.  

PLTW’s blog intends to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.