Four DREMC-served schools receive a combined $16,500 in STEM grants

Four schools served by Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC), Community High School (CHS) in Bedford County, Huntland School and Sewanee Elementary School (SES) in Franklin County, and Hickerson Elementary School (HES) in Coffee County have been awarded a combined total of $16,500 in grants to support their respective STEM curriculums.

The STEM grants are made possible by the Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers, Inc., a TVA retiree organization, to develop science, technology, engineering and math education projects to help spark student interest in future careers in STEM-related fields.

Teachers across TVA’s seven-state region applied for funding of up to $5,000 for projects, and 238 applications were selected. Schools that are awarded grants must receive their power from a local power company served by TVA, which includes Duck River Electric.

“We congratulate these schools for receiving the TVA STEM grant and for their efforts to inspire students through creative plans and projects that center around the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” says Duck River Electric’s President and CEO Scott Spence. “STEM education sparks interest and creativity in learning for all ages of youth and helps prepare them to become the innovators and inventors of tomorrow.”

“We want to open doors to high-quality, rewarding jobs for our students, and the grant will help us introduce them to these subjects from a young age,” said CHS Career and Technical Education Teacher Ian Stitzel.

“Currently, we have just scratched the surface on robotics and could really use a boost to further extend the program,” Stitzel adds and says that the robotics kits will provide CHS STEM students the opportunity to learn programming and problem-solving skills. “Students will get a hands-on experience within the field of robotics to better serve them for further post-secondary training/schooling.”

Hickerson Elementary is a STEM-designated school. Over the last two years, the school has added a greenhouse and butterfly garden to its campus. Leaders at the school shared that these facilities have given students endless opportunities for hands-on learning. In addition to purchasing needed equipment, like a utility wagon and wheelbarrow, they also plan to enhance the facility by adding rain barrels to collect rainwater for the garden and teach students how to be resourceful by conserving water.

At Sewanee Elementary, the Learning Enrichment Activities Program (L.E.A.P) to Discovery, the school district’s intellectually gifted program, has been completing assistive technology projects for local schools. Through this program, students learn computer science and engineering concepts to help them solve complex problems. School officials shared that students use this knowledge to build assistive technology devices, expanding on their plans to include interactive LED boards and walls to provide sensory therapy for students with disabilities in the school district. Because these types of sensory devices are needed, yet are expensive to purchase, students in the L.E.A.P. program are working to provide a solution by building the needed devices on their own to help meet the needs of fellow classmates.

Hydroponic gardening projects have been introduced in the classrooms at Huntland Schools to support STEM education by teaching students about the different methods of food production. Leaders at the school share that through the hands-on gardening experience, students learn that hydroponics is a very fast-growing part of agriculture that offers new and innovative ways of providing pesticide-free food for lunchrooms and communities.

“TVA is committed to supporting STEM education to help develop today’s students into tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and IT professionals,” said Jeannette Mills, TVA executive vice president and chief external relations officer. “It’s inspiring to be able to contribute to the innovators of the next generation.”

Since 2018, TVA and BVI have awarded nearly $5 million in STEM grants to support local education.

Community High School receives STEM grant 2023
A $5,000 STEM grant was awarded to Community High School. Front row, from left are CHS STEM students Andres Abad, Reed Wallace, Reily Anica, and Sarah Woolbright; back row, from left: Bedford County Schools (BCS) Grants Supervisor Tiffany Swain; BCS Director of Career and Technical Education Lori Sexton; CHS Assistant Principal Dr. Keith Williams; TVA Community Relations Specialist Dr. Lori Brown; CHS Principal Dr. Robert Ralston; DREMC President and CEO Scott Spence; CHS Career and Technical Education Teacher Ian Stitzel; and DREMC Senior Director of Shelbyville Operations Drew Lane.
Hickerson Elementary STEM grant 2023
Hickerson Elementary received a STEM grant for $1,500. Pictured from left are DREMC Senior Director of Manchester Operations Ben McTier; DREMC President and CEO Scott Spence; Angela Ridner, HES School Nurse; Michael Avey, HES Teacher; Michelle Mullican, HES Pre-K Teacher; HES Principal Kathy Crabtree; and TVA Community Relations Specialist Dr. Lori Brown.
Huntland Schools receive STEM grant 2023
A $5,000 STEM grant was awarded to Huntland Schools. Pictured from left are Huntland Mayor Dalton Steele; Franklin County Education Foundation for Excellence representatives Jeff Stewart and Dave Van Buskirk; TVA Community Relations Specialist Dr. Lori Brown; Hunter Lewter, Huntland Schools student; Huntland Schools Principal Lisa Crabtree, STEM Teacher Kim Collins; DREMC President and CEO Scott Spence; Franklin County Schools Secondary Supervisor Leah Harrell; DREMC Senior Director of Decherd Operations; 4-H Youth Development Extension Office Representatives Whitney Davis and Hunter Isbell; and Chief Administrative Officer of Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods Mary Lee McConnell.
Sewanee Elementary receives STEM grant 2023
Sewanee Elementary received $5,000 in STEM grant funds. Pictured from left are DREMC Senior Director of Decherd Operations Rob Edde; DREMC President and CEO Scott Spence; TVA Community Relations Specialist Dr. Lori Brown; SES SPED/Gifted Teacher Kyle Reid; Franklin County Schools Exceptional Services Supervisor Dr. Toby Guinn; Franklin County Schools Board Member, 5th District Sarah Marhevsky; and SES Principal Allison Dietz.