Taylor Whisenant

Taylor Whisenant leads Athens Renaissance School in establishing its FIRST Robotics program.

Taylor Whisenant, a K-6 collaborative teacher at Athens Renaissance School, was recently named a 2022 Inspire the Future: Educators Recognition Program honoree.

“Mrs. Whisenant joined the Athens Renaissance family in summer 2021. She came in with the determination and the drive to start a FIRST Robotics program across all grade levels, kindergarten through 12th grade,” said Catherine Preston, assistant principal at Athens Renaissance.

In April, the robotics team won the All Start Rookie Award at the 2022 Rocket City Regional Competition, which qualified them to go to Houston for the FIRST championship.

The high school portion of the event featured 454 teams divided across six divisions. Athens Renaissance was in the Carver Division and ranked 12th out of 75 teams, earning them the Highest Rookie Seed Award.

Athens Renaissance was the highest-ranked team from Alabama at the event and the highest-ranked rookie team out of all six divisions.

“FIRST Robotics is a global robotics community with a vision that inspires young people to be science, engineering and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in project-based programs that foster well-rounded life skills, including self-confidence, communication and leadership,” said Preston.

Participating in events such as the FIRST Championship in Houston and the Rocket City Regional Competition allows students to connect with like-minded peers and professionals in industries and fields within STEAM.

Whisenant has worked tirelessly to see her vision become a reality for Athens Renaissance to be the first in the state to implement all four levels of the FIRST Robotics model.

“This full-school implementation would allow Renaissance to be a model school, making us the first in the state to implement all four levels of the FIRST Robotics model. This was a huge undertaking, but Mrs. Whisenant began writing grants, reaching out to community businesses and seeking opportunities to give our students this amazing opportunity,” said Preston. “She has worked tirelessly to achieve this goal and empower our students to learn, grow and accelerate through the FIRST Robotics model. Mrs. Whisenant is a dedicated and inspirational teacher, and there is no one more deserving of this honor.”

“The work that Mrs. Whisenant has done for the Renaissance Robotics program is absolutely outstanding. She has written and received several grants to start the program and for the students to have needed supplies. Mrs. Whisenant’s overall passion for students and STEAM-based learning is definitely inspiring,” said Nelson Brown, principal at Athens Renaissance School.

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