COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. (May 18, 2023) – The Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) have announced that Sycamore Elementary School and West Collierville Middle School are among 26 schools statewide to receive the Tennessee STEM/STEAM School Designation for 2023. Each school has earned a $35,000 grant dedicated to advancing STEM education in their schools and are the first Collierville Schools to receive the designation.
The honor recognizes schools for preparing students for postsecondary and future career success by committing to promote STEM and/or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) learning for their students. In alignment with Governor Bill Lee’s Future Workforce Initiative, the designation program is working towards his goal to triple the number of STEM/STEAM-designated schools in Tennessee.
"We are proud of the remarkable achievements of Sycamore Elementary and West Collierville Middle as they are honored with the Tennessee STEM School Designation this year,” announced Dr. Gary Lilly, Director of Schools. “They exemplify excellence by cultivating a passion for discovery, equipping students with cutting-edge technologies, and nurturing a strong foundation in critical thinking while preparing them to excel in the dynamic world of STEM careers."
Since the designation program launched in 2018, 114 schools have earned the Tennessee STEM/STEAM Designation, which the department developed in partnership with the STEM Leadership Council to provide a “roadmap” for schools to successfully implement a STEM and/or STEAM education plan at the local level. Schools that receive this honor also serve as models to inspire and teach others. All K–12 schools serving students in Tennessee are eligible.
"Sycamore Elementary and West Collierville Middle are model schools for implementation of STEM education across all grade levels and all subjects,” added Brett Heinrich, Collierville Schools CTE Supervisor. “Teachers, staff, and administrators at these schools have worked diligently over the last few years to embed project-based learning school-wide in an effort to provide engaging curricula that will prepare students with the skills needed to compete for the jobs of the future.”
Each school that received the Tennessee STEM/STEAM School Designation underwent a rigorous application process, including completing a self-evaluation, participating in interviews, and hosting site visits with the Tennessee STEM/STEAM Designation review team. The designation rubric included five focus areas: infrastructure, curriculum and instruction, professional development, achievement, and community and postsecondary partnerships. As a part of the process, schools were also required to submit a plan of action for implementing and sustaining STEM and/or STEAM education for the next five years.
STEM/STEAM education is an interdisciplinary curriculum in which activities in one class complement those in other classes. It also offers teaching and learning opportunities focused on inquiry, technology, and project-based learning activities and lessons connected to the real world.