By Alex Welch
Unity Grove Elementary
School in Locust Grove can now claim it has one of the most
innovative educators in the state of Georgia after one of its
first grade teachers was recognized by Gov. Nathan Deal.
Amanda Cavin, a first
grade teacher at Unity Grove, became one of three teachers in
the state to receive a grant from the Innovation in Teaching
Competition. Cavin applied for the grant by submitting a
project-based lesson plan she completed with her class in the
First grade teach Amanda
Cavin (top right) is one of three teachers in Georgia to be
recognized from the Innovation in Teaching Competition.
Photo by Alex Welch
“The driving question for
this unit was, ‘Is it less expensive to grow your own food or
purchase commercially grown food?’ Through that whole
investigation, which was about a month long, the kids started
out by researching the different types of soil, different types
of plants that grow in our area, making an interactive map using
QR codes,” Cavin said. “They collected data and used standard
units of measurement. They actually created their own garden. So
we were trying to learn about becoming a food-growing school.”
Cavin said her students
used Skype to video chat with other schools in California and
Connecticut. The children at Unity Grove learned more about
these other areas growing gardens in wine barrels and on roof
tops, according to Cavin.
Cavin received a grant
during the previous school year to acquire iPads for her
classroom. The students used the new technology to document
data while constructing the garden, and Cavin said she will
have her children blog about their experiences and keep a
digital portfolio when she uses this same lesson plan in the
From the competition,
Cavin was named the lone Georgia elementary school teacher to
receive a $2,000 stipend and a $5,000 grant for Unity Grove.
Principal Anne Wilson said that Cavin, who is a Talented and
Gifted (TAG) teacher, always looks for opportunities to enhance
the education of her students, along with her school in general.
innovative and driven. She’s progressive in her thinking and
teaching style. Amanda is an incredible teacher and great role
model for other teachers,” said Wilson. “She’s very
collaborative. She always wants to involve the other teachers
and bring everybody forward. It’s not all about her.”
Wilson said Unity Grove
will gather a cross-grade team to examine how the school should
spend the $5,000. They are looking at purchasing more technology
like iPads and laptops. As for Cavin, she said she will use her
personal stipend to purchase a new computer, replacing her
current 7-year-old laptop.
Georgia Public Broadcasting will film Cavin
and her class starting in October to create a video for other
educators to learn from. Cavin said the video is a compiled
resource to demonstrate project-based lessons to other teachers.