Letter: What Knoxville Needs

Knoxville needs to celebrate our assets and build on our successes. In January of 2011, the Knox County School Board voted to approve the L&N Station as the site for a new STEM Academy. Most Metro Pulse readers know that in three short years, Knox County Schools has built a highly successful school. Fewer readers may be aware that the L&N STEM Academy is also the platform school for a regional initiative to develop a framework to educate a STEM-capable workforce. About five years ago, a coalition of local leaders in business, higher education, federal research, private philanthropy, and public service came together, ultimately creating STEMspark, East Tennessee's hub of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN). TSIN is statewide network dedicated to develop regional capacity in STEM education, with the L&N STEM Academy as STEMspark's platform school.

The L&N STEM Academy is already establishing the Knox County Schools as a regional, state, and national leader in STEM education. Additionally, illustrating that a STEM focus does not exclude other critical areas of student learning, the L&N STEM Academy has even emerged as a regional and state leader in English/Language Arts education. The task of developing regional capacity in STEM education is, however, a generational commitment, not to be accomplished in three short years. Achieving our strategic goal of leveraging our amazing STEM resources at TVA, ORNL, Y12, Alcoa, and UTK for regional growth will require sustained effort by all stakeholders, especially the general public. As Gov. Haslam prepares to present his budget, we hope that the state will allocate funds to build on the foundation created with STEMspark and the TSIN.

Stephanie Ogden

Dean of R&D, L&N STEM Academy

STEMspark Board Secretary