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Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering Receives Tennessee STEM School Designation 2020

Memphis, TN—Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering (MASE) was one of 22 schools awarded the Tennessee STEM School Designation for 2020. This honor was developed with the guidance of the Tennessee Department of Education and the STEM Leadership Council to identify and recognize schools in their commitment to teaching STEM and/or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) and integrating strategies that ultimately prepare students for post-secondary college and career success in the 21st century.

“The goal is a complete educational experience for students in STEM that spurs them to continue on professional paths through the next level of education,” said Rodrick Gaston, Executive Director. "This will help our community to foster expanded opportunities in the STEM field. Being recognized on this level demonstrates our commitment to education and developing the next generation of world leaders".

“One of the great disconnects in education today is that students don’t get a chance to see the value of what they are learning in action, in a real-world situation, " said Gaston. MASE, Tennessee's 1st approved charter school, and now the 1st High School in Shelby County to receive this designation prides itself on real-world STEM immersion. 

Audra Block, STEM Director, and faculty are committed to prioritizing STEM training to ensure every scholar has an opportunity to be exposed to the emerging technology industry.

"As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, STEM fluency is more important than ever. It is crucial that our scholars have the knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of information, and that they know how to collect and evaluate evidence to make crucial decisions," said Gaston.

The Tennessee STEM School Designation also provides a “roadmap” for schools to successfully implement a STEM and/or STEAM education plan at the local level. Schools that receive the Tennessee STEM School Designation serve as models from which other schools may visit and learn. All K–12 schools serving students in Tennessee are eligible.

"As part of his Future Workforce Initiative, Governor Lee set out to triple the number of STEM- designated schools in Tennessee by 2022, and we are thrilled to see twice as many schools receive the Tennessee STEM Designation this year from last year,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “STEM education not only engages students with real-world problem solving in the classroom but provides them with the opportunity to develop creative and critical thinking skills that will prepare them for post-secondary success. We know STEM-related jobs are in high demand, and as a State, it is so important that we give all students the tools they need to be successful in the 21st century economy.”

Each school that was awarded the Tennessee STEM School Designation was evaluated through a rigorous application process. Schools were asked to complete a self-evaluation, participate in interviews, and host site visits with the Tennessee STEM Designation review team. The designation rubric included five focus areas: infrastructure, curriculum and instruction, professional development, achievement, and community and post-secondary partnerships.

As a part of the process, schools were required to submit a plan of action for implementing and sustaining STEM and/or STEAM education for the next five years. From this process, a total of 22 schools received the Tennessee STEM School Designation this year. 

“Schools that earn STEM Designation incorporate strong STEM teaching and learning experiences that rest on inquiry, technology integration, work-based learning, and project/problem-based learning strategies tied to the world around us,” said Brandi Stroecker, Director of TSIN. “Each school has a unique STEM program, yet incorporates a similar approach by providing diverse, transdisciplinary teaching practices where students become the drivers of their learning. TSIN appreciates the hard work and passion that each STEM Designated school pours into their educational community.  These schools consistently provide students with learning experiences that shape their aspirations for the future.”

STEM and/or STEAM education is a unique approach to teaching and learning that fosters creativity and innovative thinking in all students. STEM and/or STEAM is focused on building critical and creative thinking and analysis skills by addressing how students view and experience the world around them. Strong STEM and/or STEAM teaching and learning opportunities rest on inquiry-, technology-, and project-based learning activities and lessons that are tied to the real world. STEM and/or STEAM education is a diverse, interdisciplinary curriculum in which activities in one class complement those in other classes.

For more information about the STEM school designation process or implement STEM and/or STEAM education, contact Deborah.Knoll [at] tn [dot] gov.

For more information about Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, please visit the website at