Thomas More College project to help thousands of local students

CRESTVIEW HILLS, KY (FOX19) - Thomas More College announces they are officially launching a new three-year STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) program that is expected to impact approximately 3,000 Northern Kentucky high school students.

According to Stacy Smith Rogers, Director of College Communications & Public Relations, the Thomas More STEM Initiative (TSI) was made possible by a $360,000 grant from the Toyota USA Foundation.

TSI is a professional development program for teachers designed to increase and sustain the number, quality and diversity of STEM teachers, especially in under served areas in Northern Kentucky. Today, Thomas More announced the following high school partnerships:

  • Bellview High School
  • Bishop Brossart High School
  • Dayton High School
  • Holy Cross High School
  • Lloyd Memorial High School
  • Ludlow High School
  • Newport High School
  • Newport Central Catholic High School

Rogers says teachers and administrators from each of the schools have committed to participating in TSI. Rogers also says that the goal is to develop long-term partnerships between the College faculty and local high school teachers while encouraging more students to participate and succeed in advanced STEM activities.

Dr Chris Lorentz, biology professor and director of Thomas More College's Biology Field Station (located along the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky), explained how TSI will work. "The key features of the program are its depth and breadth—the program will last three years, will include numerous interactions between TMC and the schools and will present a diverse array of activities. It formally begins this summer with a teacher workshop, followed by classroom visits and online communication throughout the year, in addition to field trips to our STEM facilities, including our science labs here on campus, the Bank of Kentucky Observatory and the Biology Field Station, along the river."

Rogers says that approximately 1000 students will be involved in the program each academic year. After all these activities, the teachers, along with TMC faculty, will identify up to five qualified students from each school to attend a weeklong summer camp on campus. Students who have achieved academic success and show a sincere interest in the STEM disciplines will be selected to receive a full scholarship to attend the camp. During the week, the students will be living on campus, conducting research, doing science and interacting with current Thomas More College STEM majors. "From our previous camps like this, we expect these experiences to further their interest in the STEM areas and propel them towards a STEM major in college," Dr. Lorentz added.

Dr Lorentz went on to explain how students will be impacted, "The primary goals of TSI are to improve STEM education and attract more high school students into the STEM disciplines in college. Not only do we hope to increase the number of overall STEM majors in our region, our focus will be on those students currently underrepresented in the STEM disciplines. We know that many of today's jobs already require STEM skills and even more of tomorrow's jobs will demand STEM graduates," he explained.

Education majors at TMC will gain valuable experience for their participation in TSI under the direction of Thomas More College Education Professor Dr. Manish Sharma, who will work closely with the participating schools. STEM majors at TMC will also have an opportunity to mentor students and engage them in interactive learning experiences.

Dr Wes Ryle from Thomas More's Physics Department and Dr. Bill Wetzel from the Chemistry Department will join Drs. Sharma and Lorentz to implement the TSI program, along with Olivia Lantry, the STEM outreach coordinator at Thomas More.

Thomas More College President Margaret Stallmeyer explained how TSI will benefit the community's overall educational goals, "The Thomas More STEM Initiative is a response to a regional and national need. As you all know, we as a nation are falling behind in science and technological abilities. The future development of our region and our country is negatively impacted by such a decline. The partnership we are announcing today and which is funded by a generous grant from the Toyota U.S.A. Foundation is directed very precisely at responding to this crisis," she said.

Rogers says that Thomas More is in the midst of reaching a $1.5 million fundraising goal for its environmental science program. Just shy of $53,000 of meeting that goal, TMC recognized other partners that have helped in the fundraising efforts, including the The James Graham Brown Foundation, Duke Energy Foundation, the George A. Renaker (M.D.) Foundation, Inc., the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Foundation and The P&G Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, among others. Rogers also says that the $1.5 million campaign will allow TMC's environmental science program to:

  • Build a LEED-certified education conference center and lodge at the Field Station
  • Fund a full-time science outreach coordinator
  • Build a new environmental laboratory at the Field Station
  • Renovate two laboratories on TMC's main campus
  • Fund scientific equipment at both locations
  • Provide resources and funding for enhanced STEM K-12 programming

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