Congratulations to the Winners of the 2017 STEM Excellence Awards

The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) announced today the winners of the “STEM Excellence Awards,” a series of competitive awards that recognize outstanding teachers, leaders, and advocates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. The TSIN will honor awardees at the third annual Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit on Thursday, May 24, 2017, in Murfreesboro.

Nominations were open to the public in the Spring of this year. The TSIN team selected this year’s awardees from a field of over 40 highly qualified nominees.

“Tennessee’s recent successes in STEM are due to the combined efforts of strong teachers in the classroom, as well as innovative leaders and advocates that place STEM at the top of their priority lists,” said Wes Hall, Director of the TSIN. “We are honored to be able to recognize the efforts of these amazing individuals and the contributions they have made to advancing STEM throughout the state.”

This year’s awardees of the STEM Excellence Awards include:


Excellence in STEM Teaching Award
The Excellence in STEM Teaching Award recognizes a teacher who exemplifies integrated, STEM-infused teaching strategies, classroom innovation, and whose work has led to positive student learning outcomes. This awardee engages students in inquiry-based learning to develop creativity, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Christa Phillips croppedChrista Phillips
Teacher, Houston High School, Germantown, TN
Christa Phillips is a secondary STEM teacher at Houston High School in Germantown, TN. In addition, she is the lead STEM teacher for Germantown Municipal School District and a lead teacher in the West TN STEM Innovation Hub’s Master Teacher Corps. Her students are engaged in STEM learning within her courses, as well as outside of school through projects and competitions in CyberPatriot, Skills USA, Technology Student Association, Houston High School STEM Club, and Camp Invention, where she serves as the camp’s director. Additionally, Mrs. Phillips coordinates all STEM efforts across the Germantown Municipal School District through a collaborative cohort that works to define what STEM education looks like in the classroom, as well as the vertical alignment of the STEM programs offered throughout the district. Mrs. Phillips is being recognized for her commitment to integrating STEM learning inside and outside of the classroom and for her efforts to encourage other teachers as they seek to integrate STEM in their own classrooms.

Excellence in STEM Leadership Award
The Excellence in STEM Leadership Award recognizes a school-level, district, or regional leader with a proven track-record of developing effective STEM programs. This awardee supports and encourages teachers and schools to continually infuse STEM teaching strategies and embrace classroom innovation.

Dr. B.J. WorthingtonDr. B.J. Worthington
Director of Schools, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, Clarksville, TN
B. J. Worthington serves as the Director of Schools for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) in Clarksville, TN. During his tenure with the school district, he has served as a science teacher, assistant principal, middle and high school principal, and Chief Academic Officer. Dr. Worthington has earned teacher of the year honors and outstanding district administrator. In addition, he was one of Education Week’s “Leaders to Learn From” (2014) and was selected as the Bob Grossman Superintendent of the Year (2013) for leadership in communications. Dr. Worthington is a certified leadership trainer and has led his district to the highest academic growth in the state in literacy and numeracy for the past two years. Dr. Worthington is being recognized for his commitment to creating a leading STEM district through his work to infuse STEM learning throughout all schools in CMCSS.

STEM Advocate Award
The Tennessee STEM Advocate Award recognizes a Tennessean who has demonstrated a passion for STEM education through his or her public advocacy and participation in leadership organizations that advance STEM for All.

Dr. Stacy Klein-GardnerDr. Stacy Klein-Gardner
Director of the Center for STEM Education for Girls, Harpeth Hall, Nashville, TN
Dr. Klein-Gardner serves as the Director of the Center for STEM Education for Girls at the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, TN where she leads professional development in STEM and works to Identify and disseminate best practices from successful STEM programs for females. Dr. Klein-Gardner hosts the nationally-recognized STEM Think Tank and Conference annually at the Harpeth Hall School and also leads a program for rising 7th – 12th grade girls that integrates community service and engineering design in a global context. She continues to serve as an Adjoint Associate Professor of the Practice of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt University and currently serves as the immediate past chair of the American Society for Engineering Education’s Pre-College Engineering Education division. Dr. Klein-Gardner is being recognized for her commitment to advancing opportunities for girls in STEM and for her successful creation of a national platform for incubating ideas for providing access to STEM opportunities for all students.

STEM Innovator Award
The Tennessee STEM Innovator Award recognizes a Tennessean that has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the support of STEM education and outreach within his or her region. This awardee is a leader that identifies, supports, and promotes innovative practices that address important challenges in expanding access to quality STEM education.

Keri_RandolphKeri Randolph
Director of Innovation, Hamilton County Department of Education, Chattanooga, TN
Keri Randolph is the Director of Innovation for Hamilton County Schools in Chattanooga, TN. Previously, she taught high school science for 10 years in North Carolina, worked with pre-service teacher candidates at the university level in the UTeaChattanooga program, and directed STEM and teacher leadership initiatives at the Public Education Foundation of Chattanooga. Randolph was one of the founders of the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub where she created the STEM Teaching Fellows program, a year-long professional learning experience for teachers. Passionate about teacher voice and leadership, she created and supports several initiatives including the Teacherpreneur Incubator and Teacher Think Tank. Her work also focuses on business partnerships to support learning, innovative learning models including 1:1 technology, PBL, Gigabit applications and digital equity. She serves on the boards of the Enterprise Center and Benwood Foundation and is a member of the state’s STEM Leadership Council. Mrs. Randolph is being recognized for her success and innovation in leading STEM programs that have had a lasting impact on the Southeast Tennessee region and for her leadership within Hamilton County Schools that has led to new STEM learning opportunities for all students.


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