Spotlight

North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives Supports Virtual Learning through STEM Partnership

North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives is utilizing its innovative “Powering the Future” partnership with Athens Drive Magnet High School’s STEM Energy and Sustainability Academy to help support virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of its ongoing efforts to support the academy and help students and teachers navigate a remote classroom environment, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives developed a video presentation and online curriculum geared toward high school students that focus on its Brighter Future vision and how it is strengthening the people, businesses and communities served by the state’s electric cooperatives. It encompasses a variety of topics relevant to the focus of the academy, including sustainability, innovation, beneficial electrification and microgrids.

“The STEM Energy and Sustainability Academy at Athens Drive Magnet High School has a focus on outreach to STEM professionals, but in the remote learning environment that we currently find ourselves in, this has proven to be quite a challenge,” said Shane Barry, the academy’s STEM coordinator. “Our partnership with North Carolina’s Electric’s Cooperatives has been a huge benefit, and both of these resources have proved to be valuable learning tools for all of our students.”

View a testimonial about the course from student Olivia Cassidy.

North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives established the ongoing partnership with the academy in fall 2018 as a long-term workforce development initiative to build student awareness of career opportunities in the energy industry and at electric co-ops. About 50 seniors from the academy visited the office of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives in 2019 to learn about technology concepts applied at electric co-ops firsthand. Employees of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives have also visited classrooms to give an overview of electric cooperatives and their work to provide power to communities throughout the state.

The partnership was also nominated for the first-ever Cleantech Talent Initiative Award from the Research Triangle CleanTech Cluster.

“Our Powering the Future partnership with Athens Drive continues to be a centerpiece of our efforts to support STEM education in our local community,” said Lauren Liles, HR specialist, who coordinates the partnership on behalf of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “This educational outreach is all the more important given our current circumstances, and we’re pleased that we can continue to support teachers and students by providing materials and content that furthers STEM principles and engagement with the energy industry in a virtual classroom setting.”

This program is just one way North Carolina’s cooperative network is supporting education and giving back to the local community. Learn more about how we’re living out the cooperative principle of concern for community by visiting the In the Community section of our website and our Giving Back page.

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