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TVA gives $16,500 to Innovation Academy

staff report • Dec 3, 2012 at 11:49 AM

KINGSPORT — Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee, a platform school of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, has received a contribution of $16,500 from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The money is for the purpose of expanding STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, learning at the school. Five other STEM platform schools in the TSIN also benefited from TVA’s statewide contribution, which totaled $100,000 and was announced recently in Knoxville.

IA is a joint operation of the Sullivan County and Kingsport school systems.

“TVA understands that excellence in education is the key to our future,” said TVA Vice President Justin Maierhofer. “We support initiatives like the STEM schools that develop a talent pipeline for TVA and its customers. Our employees also support our partner schools by volunteering their time.”

Lyle Ailshie, superintendent of Kingsport City Schools, said the contribution will allow enhancement of work already started in STEM schools.

“Students all across the state will benefit as schools find more ways to make academics come to life and link them to real-world experiences,” Ailshie said.

Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said the TVA contribution “is another example of how business, public schools, and higher education can come and join together to improve the learning environment for our children. We appreciate TVA’s support and encouragement as we continue to move STEM education forward in our region.”

The ETSU Northeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub is also a part of TSIN. According to Jack Rhoton, director of the ETSU STEM Hub, the TVA contribution will leverage and strengthen IA’s effort to support programs that engage students in the act of problem solving and making application of STEM concepts in the context of solving real-world problems.

“This is yet another example of TVA’s dedication to support education,” said Sandy Watkins, principal of Innovation Academy. “Innovation Academy deeply appreciates this generous contribution to help support our vision to provide students with the skills necessary to compete in a global economy.”

Innovation Academy opened Aug. 6 with 160 students in sixth and seventh grade. Innovation Academy operates as a joint venture between Kingsport City Schools and Sullivan County Schools, with the support of East Tennessee State University.

Its mission is to engage, challenge, and inspire students in a collaborative environment that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The students engage in rigorous transdisciplinary activities, which promote critical thinking and problem solving skills through inquiry and investigation. The IA staff, parents, STEM professionals and community stakeholders are to provide a challenging environment to develop the intellectual, social and physical needs of each student by inspiring successful, independent, innovative learners.

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