Kingsport Times News Friday, July 25, 2014

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Purdue official rates IA as top STEM middle school

April 25th, 2014 12:12 am by Rick Wagner

Purdue official rates IA as top STEM middle school

KINGSPORT — When Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey visit Innovation Academy this morning, they will see the nation's best STEM middle school.

Or at least that's the opinion of a Purdue University official. She opposes Sullivan County's plans to move Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee to a school within a school at Holston Middle School near Tri-Cities Regional Airport, saying it will hurt the STEM platform school, while Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie and school board Chairman Dan Well maintain it will benefit the school.

For the past two years Carla C. Johnson has been the external evaluator for the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network as selected by Vanderbilt University.

She is associate director of the Center for Advancing the Teaching and Learning of STEM (CATALYST) and professor of science education in Purdue's Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, a program that uses cross-curricular instruction and problem- and project-based learning.

"I urge you to strongly consider keeping IA in place in the current setting with the current staff, including the great leadership of (Principal) Sandy Watkins and give IA an opportunity to flourish, build a sustainable model, and share their expertise and resources across all of Sullivan County schools," Johnson wrote in the email dated April 16, the day before the board voted to move IA.

"Holston Middle School is an excellent choice to serve IA students," Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said in a Thursday news release about the visits. "It will make greater arts programming available to IA students through the Holston Middle School band and choir programs, plus it is a newer facility with newer infrastructure."

For an expanded version of this article, please see Friday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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