By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools
Smyrna Elementary School has been named Rutherford County School’s first STEM-designated school by the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network and the Tennessee Department of Education.
The award was announced today in Nashville at the organization’s annual summit, and 27 schools were named.
Smyrna Elementary has been working toward the designation for more than a year by conducting staff STEM training, organizing work-based problems and projects with students, and completing a rigorous application process.
As part of the designation, the school will receive $30,000 to spend toward implementing additional STEM programming for students and professional development for faculty and staff members.
Through the additional use of work-based problems and projects, students learn as many as 24 different careers in their time from kindergarten through fifth-grade, said Stephanie Finley, the middle-level science specialist with Rutherford County Schools.
During those projects, students will serve as industry professionals.
“This will give students exposure to careers they may not otherwise experience outside the four walls of the school,” Finley said.
The STEM moniker also requires the school to develop strong partnerships with community organizations, businesses and higher education institutions. Additionally, Smyrna Elementary will serve as a model school for others who wish to pursue the designation.
Rutherford County Schools has three other schools who are seeking the designation, including Christiana Middle, Stewarts Creek Middle and Thurman Francis Arts Academy.
Smyrna Elementary and the other three schools will also receive equal portions of a $25,000 Nissan / Business Education Partnership Foundation grant for STEM for next school year.