SAVANNAH, Ga. – A pair of Savannah District leaders form links in the chain of community partners aiding a local school to achieve academic excellence in the scientific and mathematical fields.
Jenkins High School’s engineering program, located in Savannah, recently achieved Georgia STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program certification, becoming the eighth school in Georgia to receive the accreditation and the first outside of Metro Atlanta.
As industry partners with Jenkins, Corps volunteers augment academic curriculum to elevate skills in students studying STEM disciplines at the school’s engineering program.
Gordon Simmons and Ed Krolikowski, chief and deputy chief of the Engineering Division, respectively, serve as board members of the Business and Education Partnership Advisory Council. The BEAC enhances quality education through business and school partnerships.
Through the council and an agreement with Jenkins High School, the pair and other district volunteers have built an eight-year partnership participating in 8th grade open houses, Engineer Week school fairs and Corps-sponsored summer camps at Thurmond Dam and Fort Stewart. Volunteers have also served as judges for mid- and end-of-year capstone projects for graduating seniors.
A prerequisite of STEM program certification requires aspiring schools to maintain on-going relationships with business, community, and post-secondary partners in STEM instructional programs. These partners must also be directly connected to in-class learning, said Grace Herrington, lead instructor for Jenkins’ school of engineering.
Herrington said the awarding committee was most impressed with the school’s business and industry partnerships, highlighting the relationship established with the district.
“They have spoken numerous times that our committee is large, diverse and active, and should be the role model for other schools,” said Herrington. “[We] cannot accomplish this certification without assistance from partners such as the Corps of Engineers.”
With this recognition, Krolikowski maintains that Corps involvement will remain at the front of volunteer initiatives, even when shrinking allocations of outreach hours affect the district.
“In the face of competing interests, the Corps will continue to help harvest STEM-smart students for the growing need of a workforce well-versed in those fields,” he said.
Ideally, this covenant will produce faces of the 21st century Corps, adding STEM technicians with the potential to inspire ingenuity, spark new discussions and introduce innovative technologies that have yet to be developed, he said.
As the partnership endures in the era of national STEM emphasis, it’s a sturdy link that the district doesn’t intend to unchain.