Press Releases

TN Math, Science Teachers Recognized Nationally in Presidential Award Program

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Education; November 5, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Education is pleased to announce the state finalists for the 2012 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, or PAEMST. This prestigious program was established in 1983 by the White House and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Outstanding Science and Mathematics teachers are identified in each state and the four U.S. jurisdictions. Elementary and secondary finalists are chosen in alternate years. These exemplary teachers serve as models for their colleagues by providing leadership for the improvement of Mathematics and Science education.

2012 Elementary Science Finalists:

Derri Cash, Lakeside Park Elementary School, Hendersonville
Karla Fultz, A.L. Lotts Elementary School, Knoxville
Margaret Hawkins, Winfrey Bryant Middle School, Lebanon

2012 Elementary Mathematics Finalists:

Amber Hodge, Annoor Academy, Knoxville
Amy Mitchell, Manley Elementary, Morristown
Kimberly Jones, Spring City Elementary, Spring City

Two Tennessee teachers were recognized at the White House earlier this year through the 2011 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. As Presidential Award winners, they received $10,000, a presidential citation and a trip to Washington D.C.

2011 Secondary Science Awardee:

Gail Schulte, Smyrna Middle School, Smyrna, TN

2011 Secondary Mathematics Awardee:

Phyllis Hillis, Oak Ridge High School, Oak Ridge, TN

For more information, please contact Kelli Gauthier at (615) 532-1817 or

Press Releases

TN Opens 3 New STEM Schools

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Education; August 6, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Amid a national movement in education to better prepare students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the Tennessee Department of Education announces the opening of three new STEM-focused schools this year. The new programs are part of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, a collaboration between the department and the Battelle Memorial Institute.

“STEM is an important part of our statewide effort to increase the rigor and relevance of our students’ education,” said Kathleen Airhart, Tennessee’s deputy commissioner of education. “Additionally, these schools will help to fill STEM jobs across the state, while improving the growth and sustainability of our local communities.”

Classes begin today at Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee, with 80 students in each sixth and seventh grades. The academy operates as a joint venture between Kingsport City Schools and Sullivan County Schools, with the support of Eastern Tennessee State University. The school plans to expand to eighth grade in 2013-14.

“The Kingsport City Schools are proud to be a partner in the creation of the region’s first STEM middle school,” said Superintendent Dr. Lyle Ailshie. “It is an exciting time for Kingsport and Sullivan County.”

The Southeast Tennessee STEM School, located on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College in Hamilton County, will open to students the following week, with 75 ninth-grade students. The high school will add an additional 75 students for its first three years.

The first class of students will get to name the school, design the logo and choose the mascot, a process that began in a summer STEM camp convened to introduce the students to each other and to the STEM style of learning.

“The Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub has helped us create strong partnerships with our regional businesses,” said Rick Smith, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “Business leaders are working with our teachers to create curriculum projects that reflect real-world business situations. This collaboration will not only enhance the students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills, but it will also expose them to STEM career opportunities.”

The Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative kicked off the school year in July at Prescott South Elementary School and Prescott South Middle School in Putnam County. As they transition to become the region’s first STEM program, teachers will be collaborating with the hub at the Millard Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University.

They will lead students on virtual field trips through the schools’ distance learning lab, and all students will receive iPads to access course materials and take notes.

“Our purpose is to provide our students with the opportunity to invent, discover, and develop themselves so they can move into the 21st-century workforce with the skills they need to be successful,” said Jerry Boyd, director of schools in Putnam County. “The Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative is more than science, technology, engineering, and math. It is the integration of those skills and the development of critical thinking, both of which are required for students to achieve. We are excited to be working with the TSIN and all of our regional partners in this endeavor.”

About the TSIN

The initial TSIN funding for these schools was announced by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman in March. The TSIN, created by an Executive Order of the Governor and funded through First to the Top, comprises five Regional STEM Innovation Hubs and five STEM Platform Schools. A sixth hub and school are slated to open in West Tennessee in 2013.

Two TSIN hubs and schools have been operational for one year already: In Knoxville, the Karst STEM Innovation Hub and L&N STEM Academy; in Nashville, the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub and Stratford STEM Magnet High School.

The hubs are the nucleus of regional STEM activity, representing a formal partnership among school districts, post-secondary institutions, STEM businesses and community organizations, all committed to amplifying and accelerating the impact of STEM programs in their region.

About Battelle

Battelle is a research and development organization and one of the nation’s leading charitable trusts, focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting STEM education.

For more information, contact Kelli Gauthier at (615) 532-7817 or

Press Releases

NAEP: Science Scores for TN 8th Graders Show Improvement

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Education; May 14, 2012:

NASHVILLE — Eighth-grade students in Tennessee scored higher in science than they did two years prior, according to the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

About 28 percent of students in Tennessee scored at or above proficient in science in 2009, compared to nearly 31 percent in 2011, while the average scale score went up from 148 to 150. Tennessee ranks 32nd out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in NAEP science results.

Education commissioner Kevin Huffman said the upward trend was encouraging, since Tennessee’s new accountability model now measures science benchmarks, rather than math and reading only.

“I’m pleased with the direction our science scores are going,” Huffman said. “We certainly still have room for improvement, but we should all be proud of the gains our students are making.”

Economically disadvantaged students in Tennessee also made big gains over their 2009 scores, jumping from an average scale score of 133 in 2009 to 139 in 2011.

Emily Barton, assistant commissioner for curriculum and instruction for the Tennessee Department of Education, said the science gains show the state is headed in the right direction.

“It is critically important for our students to have a strong background in science education,” Barton said. “Through Race to the Top, we’ve invested a lot of money into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, so we’re glad to see our efforts paying off.”

Students in Tennessee took NAEP between January and March of 2011. A representative sample of students from schools across the state is chosen to take a portion of the test. Because the same test is administered in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, NAEP is a way to accurately compare academic progress across the nation.

For more information on NAEP scores in Tennessee and across the country, visit

For more information, contact Kelli Gauthier at (615) 532-7817 or