STEM School Chattanooga builds education-business relationships for student success
Posted on 01/25/2019
Photo of Joshua Ward, with RCI, leads a group of STEM School Chattanooga students in a paper airplane exercise.Collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking are characteristics that local business and industry are looking for in the workforce of tomorrow. STEM School Chattanooga is committed to developing these critical skills in their graduates and involving the business community in the process. The school emphasizes skill building and business involvement in every aspect of a student’s learning experience.

The emphasis on business involvement in student learning brought Rock Creek Informatics (RCI) to the school this month. RCI led the entire sophomore class in a two-hour Continuous Improvement Activity where students learned about Lean principles while manufacturing complex paper airplanes. During this activity students learned the importance of standard work, reducing waste, and how to increase a company’s profit margin. The experience was designed by RCI to be valuable and fun for the students and help them understand the real-world application of how all work impacts the bottom-line for a company.

STEM School Chattanooga provides “real-world” experiences for their students through business partnerships. From sophomore year to graduation, students are partnered with representatives from local businesses to enhance their learning experience. Rock Creek Informatics (RCI) is one of the business partners of the tenth-grade class for the 2018-19 school year. RCI is a local management consulting firm that utilizes operational excellence and business intelligence to drive enterprise value for its clients.

The philosophy of providing real-world experiences through business involvement has led STEM School Chattanooga to be recognized as a Tennessee Reward School for two consecutive years and become a model for innovative education practices in the region. “It is our goal to grow students from their freshman year to graduation in this unique model,” said Jim David, vice-principal for STEM School Chattanooga. “The best way for students to be prepared for what awaits them upon graduation is to offer them consistent real-world experiences as part of their high school curriculum.”

Lucy Cleveland, a STEM School student, said, “I chose the STEM School over a more traditional high school because the school gives me opportunities that no other school in the area can provide.” One of her classmates, Sa’mya Eberhardt added, “I enjoy the small group environment because it makes learning much easier and the teachers more accessible.”

The sophomore class will take the principles learned in the RCI experience and apply them to a capstone project at the end of the year. Representatives from RCI will continue to be actively involved in mentoring students throughout the completion of the capstone project. The economic growth experienced in Southeast Tennessee relies heavily on education-business partnerships, and this is just one way Hamilton County Schools is leading the way in workforce and economic development.

If you would like more information about the STEM School Chattanooga or would like to know how to become a business partner, call the school at 423.531.6270 or visit the school’s website at For more information about Rock Creek Informatics, please visit