Tennessee STEM School Designation for 2020

Tennessee STEM School Designation for 2020
Posted on 06/26/2020
Electric car building and racing is STEM education at workFive Hamilton County Schools were among 22 state-wide awarded the Tennessee STEM School Designation for 2020 in a recent announcement by the Tennessee Department of Education. Red Bank Elementary, Harrison Elementary, Red Bank High, Hixson Middle, and Normal Park Museum Magnet are the five schools in Hamilton County Schools earning the state designation for their work in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM.) The Tennessee Department of Education and the STEM Leadership Council worked together to develop the designation as a way to identify and recognize schools for their commitment to teaching STEM or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) and for their work to prepare students for college and career success. The five schools join STEM School Chattanooga as district schools with the Tennessee STEM School Designation.

"The selection of five schools by the state is a reflection of the commitment by our district and schools to provide learning opportunities that will ensure that our students are Future Ready," said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent, Hamilton County Schools. "The Hamilton County Board of Education's five-year plan Future Ready 2023, addresses the need to provide Future Ready Students in Action Area 2, and the designation of these five schools demonstrates our progress in this vital area."

When Hamilton County Schools launched the Office of Innovation and Choice last June, one of Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson's goals was for the district to increase STEM opportunities and designations. The Office of Innovation launched a STEM Cohort and provided year-long support to schools pursuing the state designation. The STEM focus addressed Accelerating Student Achievement and Future Ready Students, two key areas in the Future Ready 2023 five-year plan.

Each school that was awarded the Tennessee STEM School Designation was evaluated through a rigorous application process. Schools were asked to complete a self-evaluation, participate in interviews, and host site visits with the Tennessee STEM Designation review team. The designation criteria included five focus areas: infrastructure, curriculum and instruction, professional development, achievement, and community and post-secondary partnerships. As a part of the process, schools were required to submit a plan of action for implementing and sustaining STEM or STEAM education for the next five years.

Locally, The Public Education Foundation (PEF) worked with the district and schools through the application process. Each school committed at least two teacher leaders to participate in STEM Fellows through PEF. The innovative year-long fellowship helps teachers grow as instructional experts, teacher leaders, and community connectors. PEF has partnered with Hamilton County Schools since 2012 in the fellowship program.

Image of STEM designation"For schools to equip students with a STEM mindset to solve problems in a dynamic setting, it is clear that they need strong leaders and teachers," said Michael Stone, director of Innovative Learning at PEF. "Thanks to support from the Benwood Foundation, PEF was able to partner with HCS to provide wrap-around supports designed to synchronously empower teachers and administrators to push their schools to earn STEM Designation from the state."

Photo: Electric car building and racing is STEM education at work. Racers are Brody Harp (driving) and Alex Dowlen (Team #04) in the first car and J.T. Black (driving) and Anthony Rimback in the second (Team #93). All four are seventh-graders at Hixson Middle School.
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