By James Evans
Rutherford County Schools
Rutherford County students will have increased access to STEM programs and materials thanks to a generous $25,000 donation from Nissan North America.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs and courses.
“Nissan has supported STEM-related curriculum and programs for many years, especially in the communities where our employees live and work,” said Parul Bajaj, senior manager of philanthropy at Nissan. “We are pleased to support STEM programs in Rutherford County and believe that this investment in our youth is an investment in our state’s future.”
She added: “A solid STEM education develops versatile skills that are in high demand in the ever-evolving, increasingly global workplace.”
This gift is from Nissan’s Neighbors Program, which focuses on education, environmental stewardship and humanitarian relief.
Rutherford County Schools will use the funding to support schools going through the STEM School Designation process. The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network provides the designation to schools who implement a STEM education plan, and those schools are then recognized by the Tennessee Department of Education and serve as model schools for others in the region.
“The money received will go towards purchasing resources for Project and Problem-Based Learning and accompanying STEM challenges,” said Stephanie Finley, Science and STEM specialist for grades 6-8. “Using the funds in this way, will impact every student in the school.”
Three Rutherford County Schools — Smyrna Elementary, Christiana Middle and Stewarts Creek Middle — are currently pursuing the designation. All three schools are the in the second year of the process to gain the designation, and the funds will go a long way to help boost their efforts, Finley said.
For example, the materials purchased with the Nissan funds will allow students to go beyond the design process to actually build a working prototype — from concept to production.
“Equitable access to resources will help expand STEM in these schools and offer motivation to other schools considering going through the STEM School Designation process and ultimately provide better quality instruction to their students,” Finley said.
As part of its commitment to local education and STEM program, Nissan also provided a similar donation to Murfreesboro City Schools.