Announcing the 2018 STEM Excellence Award Winners!

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 STEM Excellence Awards to recognize outstanding teachers, leaders, and advocates in the fields of STEM education. The TSIN will honor awardees at the fourth annual Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit on Wednesday, May 9th, 2018 in Nashville.

“Tennessee’s recent successes in expanding STEM learning for students are due to the combined efforts of strong teachers in the classroom and innovative leaders and advocates that place STEM at the top of their priority lists,” said Wes Hall, Director of TSIN. “We are privileged 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

Sharon Clark, Teacher, East Side Intermediate School, Haywood County Schools

Excellence in STEM Leadership Award

Erin Thurston, STEM Coordinator, Jack Anderson Elementary, Sumner County Schools

STEM Advocate Award

Billy Hix, Professor Emeritus at Motlow State Community College and Director of STEM Outreach Program

STEM Innovator Award

Dr. Tony Donen, Principal, STEM School Chattanooga, Hamilton County Department of Education

 

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.

Sharon Clark Teacher, East Side Intermediate School, Haywood County Schools
Sharon Clark teaches STEM and Technology Enrichment to 4th and 5th grade innovators at East Side Intermediate School in Brownsville, TN.  Clark is a 2018 PBS Digital Innovator All-Star, a member of the Rural TN STEM Collaborative Cohort, and a Lipscomb University Tennessee Transformational Leadership Alliance Fellow. Clark enjoys empowering students through STEM education, raising community awareness about the purpose of and need for STEM, and engaging community members with her students through STEM related activities. Sharon is passionate about sharing the value of quality STEM instruction with other educators across West Tennessee.


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.

Erin Thurston STEM Coordinator, Jack Anderson Elementary, Sumner County Schools
Erin Thurston serves as the STEM Facilitator at Jack Anderson Elementary School in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In her role, she works closely with teachers and administrators to provide unique opportunities for all students to apply grade level standards in ways that allow for the Engineering Design Process. Erin prides herself on exposing her students to STEM practices that help cultivate critical thinkers while nurturing creativity and developing communication and collaborative skills necessary for their next steps. She began her journey with Jack Anderson in the role of a parent.  As the PTO president, Erin worked alongside administration to secure funding for a fully functioning STEM lab. Her role has now expanded to include securing community partnerships, seeking and organizing all STEM resources, designing STEM seminars, and supporting teachers in their implementation of Project Based Learning Units. Erin was a participant of the 2016-2017 Innovative Leaders Institute Cohort, where she was able to visit and learn from many other STEM schools across Middle Tennessee. Erin is passionate about the transformation that she has witnessed at Jack Anderson since its implementation of STEM and often speaks about it at conferences.

 

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. Billy Hix, Professor Emeritus at Motlow State Community College and Director of STEM Outreach Program
Dr. Billy Hix is a product of a very rural, high poverty school where he wanted to learn about the night sky and dreamed of working for NASA. He is passionate about sharing his love of learning and astronomy with students from similar backgrounds. Billy is Professor Emeritus at Motlow State Community College where he started the STEM Outreach Program to pique the curiosity of students across the state. Additionally, Billy manages a visiting planetarium program, where he provides students with the opportunity to be awed by the night sky. Since its inception, Billy has impacted the lives of over 52,000 students through this program. Billy also created videos for the TSIN to prepare students and teachers for the 2017 Eclipse. These videos were viewed over 5000 times by educators across the country. In 2018, he was selected as a NASA Solar System Ambassador and is one of three nominees for the prestigious American Astronomical Society Outreach national award.


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 teaching practices regionally. The success of this awardee serves as a catalyst for STEM integration across the state.

Dr. Tony Donen Principal, STEM School Chattanooga, Hamilton County Schools
Dr. Tony Donen is the founding principal of STEM School Chattanooga and is committed to helping improve STEM education throughout the country. Since the inception of STEM School Chattanooga, the school has become a national leader in STEM education and a model for innovative teaching practices and real-world student engagement. The school has been recognized by America Achieves as one of thirty schools worldwide denoted as a “World-Leading Learner School” and by the Fab Foundation for prominence in digital fabrication STEM education. Tony has led professional development throughout Tennessee as one of the lead principals for the Innovative Leaders Institute for school leadership teams and provides opportunities for teachers and leaders from across the country to visit STEM School Chattanooga’s innovative campus.

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