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U of M Is Named STEM Hub for West Tennessee; Shelby County’s Southwind High School Also Tapped

For release: December 12, 2012
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843

Further advancing the state’s recent growth in the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the Tennessee Department of Education and Battelle Memorial Institute today announced the expansion of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) into West Tennessee. The TSIN is a collaboration between the Department and the Battelle Memorial Institute that is designed to increase student participation and interest in STEM subjects. 

The West Tennessee STEM Collaboratory, led by the University of Memphis, will serve as the TSIN STEM innovation hub in the region, while Shelby County Schools’ Southwind High School will house the Network’s STEM platform school.  Southwind will receive $1 million and the U of M $850,000 to fund their roles in the STEM network.

The West Tennessee STEM Collaboratory Hub will serve as a resource for the region to increase students’ interest in and preparation for STEM jobs.  Hub activities will include supporting the successful operation of the STEM platform school, providing professional development for West Tennessee STEM teachers, establishing a STEM Master Teacher Corps for the region, and developing a STEM integrated online curriculum for core high school courses that will be freely accessible to all districts. The Hub currently has commitments from more than 30 partners, including representatives from K-12, institutions of higher education, corporations, foundations, community and governmental agencies, and STEM professional societies. 

“The University of Memphis is very pleased to be able to contribute to the STEM Collaboratory in West Tennessee,” said Dr. Shirley Raines, president of the University of Memphis. “The University is keenly aware of the need for STEM education on the high school and college levels, and for a number of years now, we have been actively involved in efforts to increase STEM education among students in this area.  Through this partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education, the Shelby County Schools, and Battelle, we believe we will be able to make an even greater impact on that very important aspect of modern education.”

The TSIN STEM Platform school in the region will be housed within Southwind High School in Shelby County.  Under the leadership of Principal Susan Vaughn and district administrative staff, Southwind has been building a foundation for STEM program success since November 2010.  With corporate relationships already developed and the implementation of ongoing STEM teacher professional development sessions, Southwind is poised to become a premier STEM site and key contributor to the body of STEM best practices for the state.

“STEM education is a growing area of emphasis for all schools in Shelby County, and Southwind High School has been a leader in this area for several years in our district,” said Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken. “Principal Vaughn and her team have an incredible program that will only get stronger from this invaluable partnership. Most exciting is the notion that educators from around the region can look to Southwind as a center of excellence in their continued professional development. As a result, our students will have a great advantage as they pursue high-demand STEM degrees and careers after high school.”  

Southwind’s STEM program will invite freshman student applications in the spring of 2013.  The STEM program will launch with its first cohort of 100 students in August 2013.  A new entering class will be added each year until reaching the capacity of 400 students.

Created by an executive order of the governor and funded through First to the Top, the TSIN comprises six STEM platform schools and six regional STEM innovation hubs. The schools will investigate and create new STEM teaching and learning models (best practices) to be shared throughout the state, while providing their students with the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century workplace. The hubs are the nuclei of regional STEM activity, representing formal partnerships among school districts, post-secondary institutions, STEM businesses, and community organizations, all committed to amplifying and accelerating the impact of STEM programs in their regions.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle is the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization and one of the nation’s leading charitable trusts, focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting STEM education. Battelle was chosen as the managing partner of the TSIN because of its success creating the Ohio STEM Learning Network in its home state.

For more information about TSIN, contact Kelli Gauthier at 615-532-7817 or

For more information about the UofM-Southwind Collaboratory, contact Curt Guenther at 901-678-2843 or


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