Local STEM School To Open In August At Chattanooga State

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The new local STEM high school will open in August with a ninth grade class of 75 students and will be located on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College, officials said Tuesday.

The Southeast Tennessee STEMInitiative, a coalition of partners including businesses, K-12 schooldistricts, higher education and community-based organizations, received a grant award totaling $1.85 million to establish the new high school and regional hub focused on advancing science, technology,engineering and math (STEM) skills among the region’s students. 

Funded by Tennessee’s Race to the Top award, the STEM regional hub and school will help expand STEM education and boost student achievement through innovative practices in teaching and learning, it was stated. 

 Rick Smith, HCDE superintendent, has been involved in developing Southeast Tennessee's STEM program and generating support among community partners.  "This school will not only expand the STEM skills of the students attending it, but it will also advance STEM education for students and teachers throughout the entire region,” Mr. Smith said of the school and its hub. 

 Dr. Jim Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State, said, “We are pleased to be part of a new educational venture that will provide young people in our community early exposure to a strong science and technology foundation for future study and rewarding careers." 

Officials said many local companies support the STEM initiative and view this grant award "as a tremendous opportunity for advancing the region’s workforce skills."

  “Supporting continuing improvements in STEM education is an essential component of our job creation strategy,” said Tom Edd Wilson, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.  “Chattanooga's business leaders are joining educators in supporting this effort because it is essential to the success of our companies and the prosperity of our whole community."

Although the STEM school will serve students at the high school level, the STEM hub will help incubate and disseminate best practices to all K-12 schools in the region, officials said. "The hub will connect teachers, parents, students and the business community to the latest innovations in STEM education," said Dr. Dan Challener, president of the Public Education Foundation. "Region-wide teacher training programs, a web system featuring STEM resources and best practices, and collaborative partnerships with STEM-related businesses are just a few of the programs the hub will provide in its mission to advance STEM skills in SoutheastTennessee." UTC, Chattanooga State, Cleveland State Community College and other institutions of higher education will help the hub expand STEM benefits and offer the region’s students multiple pathways to STEM careers, it was stated.

Officials said, "The $1.85 million provided from this grant award will serve as an immediate catalyst for a STEM initiative already driven by a strong groundswell of business and community support. In the coming months as partners collaborate to open the new high school and establish the regional hub, Southeast Tennessee will have access to more information and resourcesabout STEM and the opportunities it presents for our community."

For more information, visit www.setennesseestem.org.

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