The Foundation’s staff was influenced by the concept of Learning  Design (the “LD” in “STEM.LD”), defined as “the creative and deliberate act of devising  new practices, plans of activity, resources and tools aimed at achieving particular educational  results in a given context”.  The Niswonger Foundation believes that designing student-centered learning ecosystems and pathways can lead to positive student outcomes, from K-12 student achievement to meaningful employment in the workforce post-high school.

The major components of this grant include: 1) strengthening the teaching/learning classroom experiences with engaging materials for students and professional development of teachers; 2) experiential out-of-school time opportunities to explore STEM content; and 3) expanding participation in rigorous STEM and dual enrollment courses.  This work includes conducting formative and summative evaluations of the project to continuously improve.  AnLar, LLC are serving as the external evaluator of this work.

This grant adds another important scope of work to this unique Consortium that has drawn national attention and recognition.  The majority of the schools in this project are designated rural (63%). As many as 57,000 students will benefit from this program; and at least 48% of these students are considered high-risk/low income.  Dr. Nancy Dishner, Niswonger Foundation President and CEO commented on the strength of the Consortium of Northeast Tennessee school systems: “We are uniquely positioned to receive national attention because our strong consortium of school systems and system leadership. We provide convincing evidence of what you can accomplish when you work in partnership.” The team of Dr. Richard Kitzmiller, Niswonger Foundation Vice President, Law Loving, the Foundation’s Director of Workforce Readiness, Brice Warden, State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), and Dishner prepared and submitted this grant. Dr. Vicki Kirk, former Director of Greene County Schools, and a noted leader in education in  Tennessee, will guide the work of this grant.

    The Niswonger Foundation was established in 2001 to make a positive and sustainable difference in education in Northeast Tennessee. This dream was envisioned by Scott M. Niswonger, who founded Landair Transport, Inc. and Forward Air Corporation. These companies were the first two Greeneville-based companies to be taken public in the history of Greene County, Tennessee. Jointly, the companies have combined annual revenue of over one-billion-dollars and employ more than 5000 people.


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