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ORAU awards $30,000 Extreme Classroom Makeover to Austin East Magnet High School

March 25, 2016

2016 Extreme Classroom Makeover grand prize winner Rhea Carmon and her students. Click image for high resolution version.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Every student should have an equal opportunity to successfully prepare for college—this is the logic of one local high school teacher who submitted a video for the 2016 ORAU Extreme Classroom Makeover Contest. Her goal of having the necessary tools to help ready students for the college experience was realized today as ORAU president Andy Page presented Austin East Magnet High School math teacher Rhea Carmon with a $25,000 technology makeover during a surprise classroom announcement. The funding is part of ORAU’s annual Extreme Classroom Makeover competition, now in its eighth year.

In her winning video Carmon and her students made a case for adding math resources and technology to better prepare those students who are on the college track. She also explained that while Austin East Magnet High School has increased its number of Advanced Placement classes from six to thirteen in one year, it is still lacking needed technology and tools to give her students the true college preparation experience.

“Providing our teachers with the necessary tools to strengthen students’ skills in STEM fields is important to our nation’s future,” explained ORAU President and CEO Andy Page. “ORAU believes that through programs like the Extreme Classroom Makeover, we can help standout teachers, like Mrs. Carmon, inspire students to continue their education.”

One goal of the contest is to also encourage local businesses to support the mission of placing technology in the classroom to enhance teaching and learning. This year, ORAU received a donation of $5,000 from the University of Tennessee’s Southern Appalachian Science and Engineering Fair.

“The Southern Appalachian Science and Engineering Fair has a long-term relationship with Knox County Schools,” explained Dr. Kimberly Gwinn, co-director of SASEF. “We are excited to help bring technology to Austin East Magnet High School and allow the students to do more in their classroom.”

ORAU’s Extreme Classroom Makeover highlights and supports educators like Carmon who are working to better the education system and illustrates how technology in the classroom helps teachers inspire more students to pursue math- and science-based careers.

Contestants entering ORAU’s competition must teach math or science in grades 3-10 at a public school located within 50 miles of Oak Ridge. Additionally, a teacher must submit a short video illustrating the classroom’s need and explain how the new technologies would be used to energize and enhance learning.

Mrs. Carmon’s spring and early summer will focus on the selection, purchase and installation of new technology to make over her classroom. Before students return in August, ORAU will unveil the redesigned classroom in a special event.

Previous Extreme Classroom Makeover winners include:

  • Charlie Arp, Brown Intermediate School in Sweetwater, 2015
  • Susan Silvey, Lake City Middle School in Lake City, 2014
  • Karla Fultz, A.L. Lotts Elementary School in Knoxville, 2013
  • Heather Burkhart, Pigeon Forge Middle School in Pigeon Forge, 2012
  • Herman Sutton, Green Magnet Math and Science Academy in Knoxville, 2011
  • Jordan Haney, Rocky Hill Elementary School in Knoxville, 2010
  • Jenny Alvey, Gresham Middle School in Knoxville, 2009

Winners have typically purchased items such as additional computers, iPads, digital cameras, interactive student voting systems, televisions, promethean boards and other technology to help advance his or her students’ learning activities.

WATCH: 2016 Extreme Classroom Makeover Announcement (2:37)

WATCH: 2016 Extreme Classroom Makeover Winning Entry (4:00)

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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