Cumberland Valley Electric and Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are celebrating the graduation of 64 teachers from an innovative program to lay the groundwork for creating a Kentucky workforce trained in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The SOAR-STEM initiative will result in 100 K-12 teachers who will return to local school districts in Eastern Kentucky prepared to educate children in STEM fields while also providing training for other teachers.
“SOAR-STEM is a bold, unique initiative to develop the world’s largest workforce trained in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and centered in Kentucky,” said Ted Hampton, president and CEO of Cumberland Valley Electric. “These teachers will have a tremendous impact on the future of Eastern Kentucky because they will provide the basis for a sustainable STEM-based workforce for many years to come.”
Graduates not only will implement STEM education in their classrooms, but they will also help train additional Eastern Kentucky educators to teach STEM-related topics.
Each SOAR-STEM graduate completed a three-year curriculum to achieve a Teacher Leader Master’s Degree from Morehead State University and the University of Pikeville, as well as certification for the National Board and for the renowned Project Lead The Way STEM curriculum.
In addition to the degree and certifications, each graduate received:
- A laptop computer, presented by Cumberland Valley Electric and Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.
- An iPad and VEX Robotic Kit, provided by the Toyota Foundation, Appalachian Regional Commission and the Kentucky Department for Local Government.
Lead providers are Morehead State University, University of Pikeville and Union College. Other SOAR-STEM partners include the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, the Kentucky Department of Education, Shaping Our Appalachian Region and the Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative.
This year’s graduates were honored at ceremonies held in Corbin and Salyersville. Twelve of those teachers come from counties served by Cumberland Valley Electric, and they include:
Bell County: Amanda Day, Rebecca Collett, Stephanie McCune and Brandi King.
Harlan County: Amy Cottrell, John Simpson and Rachel Yost.
Letcher County: April Cupp, Danielle Ratliff and Michael Sparks.
Leslie County: Alexis Brock and Martha Couch.
“Now I get to take this back to my school and back to my county and watch it grow,” said Stephanie McCune, a teacher at the Yellow Creek School Center.
She said the program pushed her to learn more about the academic and social needs of students and to apply that to her lesson plans.
“I know I’m a better teacher because of it,” she said.
Another 18 teachers are on track to graduate next year.
Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives helped to develop the SOAR-STEM project, identifying and engaging partners to fund and implement the program. The cost is covered by funding partners. Teachers must commit to remain with their school district for three years.