Innovative and creative teaching programs get a boost

Santee Cooper awards STEAM grants to Daniel Island School and Philip Simmons Elementary teachers
Thirty-four teachers from the Berkeley County School District are transforming classrooms into hubs of creativity thanks to Santee Cooper’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) grants. 
The grants are designed to support teachers in enhancing their classroom experiences with creative and hands-on projects. 
Each teacher was eligible for up to $2,500 individually, and teams of teachers could apply for grants of up to $5,000.
Among the recipients, three teachers from the Daniel Island and Clements Ferry area were recognized for their innovative projects: Lauren Rice and Marsha Neal from Daniel Island School, and Melissa Alexander from Philip Simmons Elementary.
Lauren Rice, Daniel Island School: Igniting Creativity with Fused Glass Art
Lauren Rice, a visual arts teacher at DIS, has received a STEAM grant to introduce her middle school students to the world of fused glass art. Students under Rice’s guidance will delve into glass fusing techniques, learning how glass interacts with heat and how to cut and fuse glass into unique pieces of art. 
“I was inspired to choose this project because my students have not had a lot of access to 3D artwork in the last couple of years,” Rice said. “The DIS community is full of artists and I think they will value this project because I am bringing something new that the students have never had access to.”
Rice will teach students how to design a fused glass plate, the slumping process needed for the kiln and how glass interacts with heat. The project not only focuses on artistic expression, but will also emphasize safety and proper handling of glass materials. 
“The STEAM grant program is a wonderful opportunity for educators to fund projects and supplies that might otherwise be unaffordable,” Rice said. “It allows us to dive deeper with technology and the arts and explore new opportunities.”
Marsha Neal, Daniel Island School: Unraveling Mysteries Through Forensic Science
Marsha Neal embraces the challenge of teaching DIS’ first forensic science class to middle schoolers. With the help of the STEAM grant, along with her doctorate in STEM leadership, Neal plans to bring real-world crime-solving experiences into the classroom.
“Crime scene evidence has revealed crucial information about the perpetrator and the circumstances of a crime,” Neal explained. “DNA, fingerprints, hair fibers – every piece of evidence processed can help move an investigation closer to solving the crime. This course will open up a variety of new career opportunities for my students that they did not even know existed.”
The grant funds will be utilized to purchase equipment including microscopes, a master forensics kit, fingerprint analysis kits and black lights. These materials will allow students to explore crime scene investigations, analyze evidence, and engage in activities like blood spatter analysis and fingerprint identification.
Neal’s teaching approach will include field trips to a crime lab and the Citadel Fine Arts department for crime scene photographing and sketching. Neal plans to implement guest speakers in the classroom, including police chiefs, detectives and a forensic services director. 
Melissa Alexander, Philip Simmons Elementary: Illuminating the Alex Nasyrov Garden of Curiosity
Melissa Alexander, a first-grade teacher at PSES, is turning a classroom project into a community-enhancing initiative. Her students, after learning about plant parts and functions, will be tasked with designing and building stands for solar lights to illuminate the “Alex Nasyrov Garden of Curiosity,” a project initiated by last year’s students.
“Students love when they can create and be a part of something,” Alexander said. “Designing and building solar light stands will be something the whole school can enjoy for years to come.”
With the grant funds, Alexander plans to provide materials for students to design and construct the solar light stands. The hope is the solar lights, once installed in the school garden, will not only beautify the space but also serve as a testament to collaborative learning and innovation.
For a list of all 34 STEAM grant recipients, visit

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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