NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 14, 2014) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District and Academy of Science and Engineering at Stratford STEM Magnet High School garnered the Externship of the Year Award during the 2014 Academies of Nashville Awards hosted by the chamber of commerce May 12 at Rocketown on 4th Avenue.

"Tonight's award is to recognize the outstanding externships that were completed during the summer of 2013," said J. D. Elliott, president of the Memorial Foundation, who presented the award to the recipients.

"Thank you so much for the generous award," said Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander, in acceptance of the accolade recognizing the support of teachers involved in teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in the city of Nashville and county of Davidson in Tennessee. "The Nashville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Stratford on their STEM program."

Hudson said the teachers were able to tour hydropower facilities, locks, dams and visited several lakes during the externship where they received information about the Nashville District's management of water resources.

"We had them work with our biologists, our engineers, to learn about how we do engineering day in and day out to help keep our nation's infrastructure running," Hudson said. "We appreciate working with your whole team to encourage young students today to seek careers in science and technology."

Michael Steele, executive principal at Stratford STEM Magnet High School, thanked all of the school's business partners and the Nashville District for going the extra mile for the students and staff.

"Without you we could not do this and we're so thankful for you each and every day," Steele said.
During the teacher externship with the Corps last summer, Stratford teachers spent three days interacting with Corps experts and visiting project sites, experiences they used to shape an applied learning project for students.

Jeff Davis, associate principal; Kathy Lee, STEM instructional designer; Angela Galloway, English and exceptional education teacher; and Delaine Wendling, mathematics teacher, visited the Nashville District Water Management Operations Center June 17.2013.

Ben Rohrbach, chief of Hydrology and Hydraulics, shared information about the district's management of water resources. Bob Sneed, Water Management Section chief; Richard Tippit, biologist; and Jeff Gregory, civil engineer; also presented more detailed information about water releases at 10 dams on the Cumberland River and its tributaries, water quality, sampling and monitoring programs, and water management operations.

On June 18, 2013 the group from Stratford boarded a Corps survey boat and received instruction on how to perform quality surveys on J. Percy Priest Lake. Sneed and Tippit worked side by side with the educators to monitor water quality conditions in the lake from the surface to the bottom. They also demonstrated how to use a Kemmerer water sampler to collect water samples at particular depths. The information they received on the lake went into a new lesson for students studying the water quality of Cooper Creek in the watershed of the school.

Later in the day the group toured Old Hickory Dam Navigation Lock and Power plant and were also able to see a sampling demonstration on Drakes Creek.

The contingent from Stratford STEM Magnet High School returned to the Nashville District Headquarters June 19, 2013 and concluded the externship by learning about a software program used for collecting biological data and they also received a demonstration of water quality data products, data plotting and geographic information systems.

Jennifer Berry, academy coach at Stratford, recently said the Nashville District has been instrumental in supporting student achievement as indicated by increasing ACT scores and unique student applications to college and universities.

"The Nashville District has supported student events such as Science and Engineering Day, student expos, and field trips, and have supported teachers through water quality curriculum development in which students explored the health of their local watershed," Berry said.

Rob Baulsir, Nashville District STEM coordinator, and Carol Haynes, Nashville District Equal Employment and Opportunity chief, also assisted with the coordination and support of the teacher externships with Stratford leadership.

"Everyone that worked behind the scenes to support this can take pride in this award," Baulsir said. "The support for these teachers ultimately led to new curriculum and an applied-learning project for the students."

According to a chamber of commerce blog by Marc Hill, a committee composed of school district, Nashville Area Chamber and PENCIL Foundation leadership selected nominees for each of the 15 categories. More than 400 educators and business partners then voted for a nominee in each category through an online secret ballot managed by Deloitte, the blog reported.

The Nashville District also hosted teacher externships during the summer of 2013 with Cane Ridge High School and Big Picture High School to give teachers hands-on experience working in STEM fields.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district's website at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at News about the district's support of the STEM program can be found at