Representatives of Wacker Polysilicon North America's Charleston plant presented a donation to Ocoee Middle School's STEM program Thursday. Teachers were given a check for $1,800 to be used for …
Representatives of Wacker Polysilicon North America's Charleston plant presented a donation to Ocoee Middle School's STEM program Thursday.
Teachers were given a check for $1,800 to be used for activities and equipment related to STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — instruction.
"We felt like this was a wonderful opportunity to support this school and this program," said Lisa Mantooth, communications and executive coordinator at Wacker.
The company learned about the STEM program and the need for more funding through Joey Greear, EI&C engineering manager at Wacker, whose son attends Ocoee Middle.
Greear looked into the possibility of Wacker donating money to support the school, which also happens to serve students living in the areas closest to the Wacker plant.
Mantooth said the donation was approved because officials at Wacker really like the idea of supporting children who could one day grow up to be part of the local workforce.
"It really goes into us being part of the community and part of the future," said Mantooth. "These are our future workers, and we want to support them as they learn about STEM and the career possibilities they have."
After the check presentation, Mantooth and Greear also visited Ocoee Middle's STEM lab, where students got to ask them about their careers and what the company does.
During their visit, science teacher Logan Hamsley described how students in STEM classes participate in hands-on activities which encourage problem-solving. This includes everything from working with small robots to building model roller coasters.
Hamsley explained teachers also try to teach students "soft skills," like the ability to give and receive good feedback, which will help them in their future careers.
The school's administrators and teachers said they are grateful for the Wacker's donation — and the community partnership it represents.
"Ocoee Middle School is all about partnering with the community to help students learn about all the career options available to them," said math teacher Jermaine Bowe. "We are very thankful that Wacker made this donation to advance the STEM program here."
Bowe added workers for STEM-related careers are expected to continue to be in high demand in the future, and Ocoee Middle appreciates Wacker's willingness to support local students' educations.
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