Lucretia Gant is working to grow the robotics program at Chamblee Charter High, a school that serves Brookhaven students, helping it win a state championship in February.
Gant, who teaches engineering and started at Chamblee Charter in 2010, has been involved in leading the program since 2013, working to get more students to participate and making sure they have the resources to explore robotics.
The school’s team has won several tournaments and qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championship in the past two years. VEX Robotics, which runs competitions for elementary through university students worldwide, held the Georgia state championship in McDonough, Ga., on Feb. 8-9.
Chamblee Charter, in a combined team with Tucker High, came away with the win in that competition, said Gant, who began her teaching career 18 years ago.
“I am most proud that the teams have developed a community of passionate enthusiast for VEX Robotics and that we have had a focus on exposing underrepresented groups to robotics,” Gant said.
Q: How common are robotics programs at public schools?
A: Robotics programs are becoming more popular at schools. However, DeKalb has had a strong focus for some time, and I believe that this is commendable, in that students are developing skills that the workforce is looking for: problem solving, critical thinking, risk-taking, teamwork, perseverance, research and dedication.
Q: Why did you decide to become an educator?
A: I decided to become an educator while at Georgia Tech, pursuing my chemical engineering degree, after tutoring a local elementary student in math in the nearby Techwood Homes community. I recall being struck by how close in proximity this student was to Georgia Tech, but how far away the student was in skill level and ability. This made me reflect on my challenges pursuing my degree at Tech and the root causes for those challenges. I, along with two other students, started a group to look at how we could address this issue and change it while at Tech.
Q: What keeps you going year after year?
A: What keeps me going from year to year is creating opportunities for students. I definitely love to hear from former students about how their doing in their classes or internships, what their involvement in school is like, and how their experiences in clubs and classes have helped them to be successful on the next level. Matching students to opportunities and experiences they otherwise would not have had is why I do what I do.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career?
A: I am most proud of the relationships that I have with my students and some parents that span beyond the classroom. Many of my students come back to give to Chamblee even if they were students from another school. If I need help with volunteering, tutoring [or] judging, I can usually reach out and depend on students and parents to assist with whatever activity I am doing. I value these relationships and I love to hear about their pursuits beyond high school and how they are doing great things like I knew they would.
Q: What do you hope students learn from you?
A: I hope that students learn that they are great. I believe that this is my call to nurture the gifts and talents that all students have so that they can fulfill their purpose. When they learn and know that they are meant to make a valuable contribution to society, I believe they will better embrace opportunities in the classroom and in lessons.
Q: Why do you think technology and science are important for students to learn?
A: Technology is a vehicle to obtaining, transferring and manipulating knowledge of nature to our benefit. Understanding how to use and leverage technology will help to secure a sustainable lifestyle in one’s future. Embracing science will allow students the opportunity to understand why nature works as it does and will afford them opportunities to work to shape and improve it to make the world a better place for everyone.
Q: What is your favorite memory at your school?
A: This is really hard to answer, because I have several, but, my fondest memory was when one of my students shared that I had been very integral in her success and the reason she had pursued engineering. She shared that I had been like a mother to her, since she had been in a single-parent home with just her father. This is one of my favorite memories because I had similar circumstances as a student growing up and teachers were very integral and the key to my success in life. So, it was nice to know that I have served their example well in the work that I do each day.