Gary Maestas, superintendent for the Plymouth school system, is not your typical school superintendent. For one thing he participates in a reality show with some of the students in his district called "Super Teach." In it, the students teach Maestas a whole range of topics that they have learned. "[The show demonstrates] that kids have so much to offer," said Maestas.
Recovery Act Impact: Plymouth School System
Improving basic operations: $707K
Education of children with disabilities: $2.1 million
Preschool grants for children with disabilities: $20K
Education stabilization fund: $4.2 million
Investing in Innovation award: $5 million
Maestas is also participating in a one-man bike marathon from Washington DC to Plymouth - 600 miles - to highlight the importance of government support on his school system.
For Maestas, that is not just talk. His school system received $707k in stimulus funds for improving basic operations; $2.1 million for the education of children with disabilities; $20K to serve preschool children with disabilities and $4.1 million as part of the state fiscal stabilization fund.
"Stimulus has saved us," said Maestas. "We are still in existence today because of stimulus funds." Maestas saved that not only did the stimulus funds help the system stabilize but 50 teaching jobs were saved with the funds. The system was also able to replace many of its outdated computers and enhance its technology. ""We took these funds as an opportunity to see what our greatest need was," said Maestas.
The school system also recently received a $5 million Investing in Innovation stimulus grant. Over 1,700 school districts across the country applied for the grants. Plymouth is one of only 50 school districts to qualify for the funding and is taking the lead for a forum of 13 schools that will participate in the program to determine how students can demonstrate what they have learned in a course.
"This opportunity is allowing us to develop a rubric for our classes which is now required for accreditation," said Maestas.
Maestas will soon start training for his bike race - and will continue to ensure that his school system continues to thrive.
"There isn't one parent in Plymouth that doesn't want more for their child," he said.