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Washington County Schools Hosts Sandersville Rotary

Updated: Jun 30

This week, the Washington County School District hosted the Sandersville Rotary at the newly opened Innovative Gifted Accelerated Learning (IGAL) Academy. Rotarians were entertained by Mr. Trey Carroll and members of the Golden Voices, while they ate food that was served by the Culinary Arts students.

During the presentation, Director Pam Mathis shared that the IGAL Academy opened at the end of February to a small group of students. This pilot opening has allowed them to prepare for next year. The plan for next year, is to rotate 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students through the building at 4-week intervals in the afternoons. Students will focus on Coding, Robotics, Forensics, and Hydroponics. “We have got to teach our children how to think critically, this space will allow us to do that,” Pam Mathis stated.

Currently, regular education, gifted education, and special education students are working through coding and engineering curriculums. They are also studying hydroponics and growing 2 different kinds of lettuce, chard, and more.

Rotarians were pleased to learn that they were consuming lettuce that was harvested by the elementary schoolers this year from the hydroponic towers in the building. “In your salads today, you are eating lettuce grown in this building by students and used by the Culinary Arts students to build your salads,” Director Pam Mathis revealed.

After lunch, guests were invited to take a self-guided tour of the building. Guests had the opportunity to interact with students as they explained the hydroponic towers and the coding lessons that they were working on.

The IGAL Academy intends to serve over 500 elementary school students of all levels next year. This doesn’t include extended programming. This summer the Academy is offering 2 Culinary Arts Camps, a 3D Printing Camp, and a Forensic Science Camp. “We are excited about this extension of Ridge Road Elementary, and all that it will bring to our students,” Principal, Christine McPherson, stated.

The Academy is also the site of tennis courts for the tennis team, will host after school programming, provide an additional space for performances, and more.

“It is incredible to see the transformation of this building from a Youth Detention Center, to a flexible innovative space that inspires children and staff. We are excited about all the possibilities this building will bring to the district and can’t wait to share it,” Superintendent, Dr. Rickey Edmond, shared.

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