COOK CO., GA (WALB) - The Georgia Department of Education shared that it is awarding $260,000 dollars to rural school districts to help them expand their fine arts opportunities available to students.
Many of those districts chosen are in South Georgia, including Quitman County Schools, Berrien County Schools, Thomasville City Schools and more.
Cook County Schools received over $40,000 of that grant money to split between four of its schools.
Teachers told WALB that they are excited about the opportunities this money will bring for their students.
“This is an incredible opportunity, never received this type of money before, this large of an amount. We will be purchasing Canon digital cameras for my students to use," explained Cook County Art Teacher Sherri Youngblood.
Youngblood is one of the four art teachers from Cook County Schools that applied for and received a $10,000 grant.
“To be honest, I was completely shocked when we were awarded the money, thrilled. We were notified right before Christmas, so it was like an early Christmas gift for me and my students,” said Youngblood.
All four of the schools in their district won their own individual fine arts grant money.
“I gave a lot of thought to what would really enhance my program here that I wouldn’t have had a chance to get in any other way. Some things like arts supplies I’ve got. They give me a budget for that," said Sandra Sawyer, an art teacher at Cook High School.
Sawyer is planning to buy iPad Pros and Apple Pencils so that her students can participate in creating digital art.
“These iPad Pros and Apple Pencils are very expensive for me and it’s not something that I would have been able to get without this money," explained Sawyer.
The rest of the money will go to the creation of their own art class at Cook Primary School and purchasing special music instruments for the teachers at Cook Elementary School.
“Those instruments are very expensive and on the shortened budget that we have dwindled down to over the past years, it has not allowed for us to update instruments, buy new instruments or even use those kinds of instruments at all,” said Lori Carnine, a music teacher at Cook Elementary School.
Cook County Schools Superintendent Tim Dixon said that he is proud of his teachers for applying for these grants and giving these students such unique ways to learn.
“See, I believe, whether we are in Cook County or Gwinnett County, our students deserve the same opportunities and these teachers have found a way to make that happen," said Dixon.
The teachers plan to purchase the items and to start incorporating them into their lessons in the coming weeks.