Georgia United Foundation Announces 2023 School Crashers Recipients
DULUTH, GA — Georgia United Foundation in partnership with Georgia United Credit Union is excited to announce seven grant recipients of the 2023 Georgia United Foundation School Crashers program. School Crashers is one of the Foundation’s
largest community service programs that offers schools across the state an opportunity to apply for a school facility makeover. The program strengthens communities by supporting local school systems with the end goal of improving the learning environment
for the students, faculty and staff.
Through the previous nine years, Georgia United’s School Crashers program has positively impacted 43,666 children across 63 schools by creating inspiring learning spaces and facility improvements valued at more than $1.8 million. Funding for the program is provided by Georgia United Foundation and generous donations made by community partners. The selected schools will receive project improvements over the summer before the start of the new school year.
The School Crashers nomination period opened in February to all accredited K-12 schools in Georgia. Interested schools were asked to include a photograph along with a 250-word essay describing why their school should receive a makeover. Nominations were received from 247 applicant schools and after a rigorous judging process, seven schools have been slated to receive school improvements over the summer.
“We are looking forward to serving our communities and strengthening our school systems through the tenth annual School Crashers program,” said Georgia United President and CEO Debbie Smith. “The Georgia United Foundation, credit union team members, generous donors, community partners and volunteers make this a worthwhile community service event, where we provide inspiring learning spaces for the students, faculty, and staff. By the end of the summer, we anticipate that School Crashers projects will have impacted a total of 70 individual schools with improvements valued at more than $2 million.”
Congratulations to the 2023 School Crashers grant recipients:
|Salem Middle School, Stonecrest, GA||Faculty recharge room, counseling office updates and new Mohawk Flooring|
|Burnette Elementary, Suwanee, GA||Sensory room and new Mohawk Flooring|
|Westside Elementary, Rocky Face, GA||Sensory room and new Mohawk Flooring|
|Windsor Forest Elementary, Savannah, GA||Faculty recharge room and new Mohawk Flooring |
|Kingston Elementary, Kingston, GA||Sensory path|
|High Shoals Elementary, Bishop, GA||Sensory room and new Mohawk Flooring|
|Cass Middle School, Cartersville, GA||Faculty recharge room and new Mohawk Flooring|
Salem Middle School in Stonecrest is a Title I school that serves more than 1,000 students each year. Salem Middle was nominated for two specific areas. The first focuses on upgrades to the school's counseling area based on increasing
student stress levels and was suggested by the school's head counselor. Since students returned to in-classroom instruction after the pandemic-induced virtual model, the school has seen an increase in the number of students requesting to speak
with the counselor about feeling anxious, afraid, hopeless, confused, etc. To accommodate this increase, the School Crashers and Mohawk Flooring grants will remake the counseling center into an aesthetically pleasing hub of student achievement
with a warm, welcoming environment. The second area of focus of the makeover is a faculty recharge room envisioned as a collaborative space where teachers and staff can interact with colleagues, plan lessons, discuss education concerns in a safe
environment and refresh after a stressful class period.
Burnette Elementary School in Suwanee is home to 629 students, including more than 130 special education students with various levels of learning disabilities, and many general education students that have social, emotional and behavioral needs. Many of these students could benefit from spending time in a sensory room that would help them improve their visual, auditory and tactile processing, improve gross motor skills and help them self-regulate their behaviors, which ultimately improves focus. Their School Crashers and Mohawk Flooring grants will transform a space next to pre-K classrooms into a hybrid sensory room, with a calming side and an active side. Suggested features include sensory-based equipment, along with tactile walls, soft optic tunnels, bubble tubes, balance beams and swings.
Westside Elementary School, home of the Rockets, is a Title I school located in the northwest corner of Whitfield County in Rocky Face. The school's pre-K through fifth grade students come from all walks of life, including the highest number of elementary-age special education students in the county, and some members of the overall student body struggle to manage the variety of emotions they encounter on a daily basis. According to the school's counselor, 20 percent of Westside Elementary students have struggled with behavior regulation during the current academic year. A sensory room, made possible by School Crashers and Mohawk Flooring grants, will help provide the environment and stimuli needed for students to regain emotion regulation and transition back to classroom learning faster. Access to a sensory classroom will give the faculty the opportunity to provide any student with emotional dysregulation a safe place to decompress in efforts to return to academic learning.
Windsor Forest Elementary in Savannah is a Title I school with approximately 700 students that was built almost 60 years ago. It is the first school in Chatham County with a Spanish Dual Language Immersion program, and it also serves as the cluster site for students in the ESOL (English as a Second Language) program, with more than 200 ELL (English Language Learners). With prevalent language barriers to overcome, being a teacher at Windsor Forest can be very challenging. School Crashers and Mohawk Flooring grants will provide a rejuvenating space where teachers can take a restorative moment during their stressful day. Transforming the teacher's lounge into a faculty recharge room is envisioned as a quiet and relaxing space with new furniture and appliances, walls painted in soothing colors, contemporary decor, appropriate lighting and refreshing aroma. Positively affecting the well-being of teachers enhances their ability to motivate academic achievement in their students.
Kingston Elementary in Kingston (Bartow County) has an approximate student population of 562 with one of the highest transient rates in the county: 123 new students have enrolled since August 2022, while 69 students withdrew in the
same period. With a high percentage of students considered economically disadvantaged, learning to speak English, some in foster care and even some experiencing homelessness, the school's mission is to collaboratively engage students in meaningful
learning experiences and support their emotional and social needs. The School Crashers grant will be used for a sensory pathway to help students navigate the monumental challenges they face with the different socioemotional needs they experience.
High Shoals Elementary in Bishop (Oconee County) has 525 students and has experienced an increase in students with anxiety, poor emotional regulation, and sensory processing deficits. In response to a need for a space that provides students with sensory elimination or sensory input to assist them with emotional regulation, the School Crashers and Mohawk Flooring grants will be used to create a sensory room at High Shoals. The sensory room's design is intended to allow staff to provide interventions aimed at reducing challenging behaviors sometimes associated with trauma, autism, ADHD, and anxiety. It will include specialized equipment designed to reduce anxiety, improve focus and minimize social-emotional behaviors through sensory integration. The goal of the new space is to help students regain focus, regulate emotions and behavior for quick returns to their regularly scheduled daily school activities.
Cass Middle School in Cartersville opened in 1993 and has 900 students, making it the largest middle school in the district and also one of the oldest. The School Crashers and Mohawk Flooring grants will provide a fresh space for
hard-working staff members to reenergize. The new faculty recharge room is envisioned as a welcoming environment for teachers, and a place for them to take quick respites when necessary before heading back into the classroom. The space will
be designed to provide staff with a comfortable place intended to boost their morale, which will in turn, positively impact student morale.
To learn more about the School Crashers program and view photos of past School Crashers recipients, visit gucufoundation.org/schoolcrashers.
About Georgia United Foundation
Georgia United Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life for children and families in the communities they serve through impactful programs funded through corporate and individual donor contributions and delivered by way of volunteer efforts from team members and community partners. The foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization and is the philanthropic arm of Georgia United Credit Union. For details on volunteering or donating, visit gucufoundation.org.
About Georgia United Credit Union
Georgia United Credit Union is an award-winning financial leader and partner in education. Headquartered in Duluth, Georgia United is ranked as one of the state’s largest credit unions with $2 billion in assets and more than 150,000 members. As a full-service financial institution, Georgia United offers competitive products and services for every stage of life. Visit gucu.org to learn more.