New K-12 STEM school to open in July
Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy is a joint effort between the nonprofit organization Innovative Education Partnership Inc. and Clayton Homes. The school bears the names of the Maryville-based business and visionary school leader Patricia Bradley, a 31-year veteran educator who retired as principal of Woodland Elementary in Oak Ridge four years ago.
“Parents will have another top-notch choice in education,” Bradley said, in a press release. “We also see this as an opportunity to demonstrate new ways educators and businesses can partner in providing students with real-world experiences in an integrated STEM environment, starting in kindergarten.”
The STEM academy will be conveniently located off Pellissippi Parkway near the Clayton Homes Headquarters, 5000 Clayton Road. The campus will include customized, state-of-the-art classrooms connected to an 8,590 square-foot multipurpose facility.
“I envision this school as a resource to all area educators as we share innovative STEM practices and information on the latest cutting-edge tools for students,” said Clayton Homes CEO Kevin Clayton said.
For Clayton Homes, the new school is an extension of its commitment to education. The industry leader’s philanthropic endeavors include among many others, the Blount County Education Foundation and Great Schools Partnership.
In addition to corporate support, Clayton is a board member of SCORE (State Collaborative on Reforming Education), an advocacy and research institute founded by former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist.
“Clayton-Bradley will enhance our community and accelerate our momentum in becoming nationally-recognized leaders in education,” Clayton said.
Bradley echoed his sentiments. “This is bigger than us. It’s a chance to try new things in a constantly-changing world, while holding fast to the best practices in how children learn.”
Before serving at Woodland, Bradley was principal of Mary Blount Elementary School. Under her leadership, the school was chosen as a national showcase school for the Highly Effective Teaching Model, which is one of the most effective in raising student achievement based on state standards.
The Blount County native was instrumental in the development of Fort Craig School of Dynamic Learning in 1995. She began her career at John Sevier Elementary School, where she served as a first grade teacher for 17 years.
“I’m so excited about this unique opportunity to challenge students in a nurturing, small-school environment,” Bradley said. The school will enroll up to 140 tuition students, starting with grades K-6 and adding a grade every year until it becomes K-12.
The STEM curriculum will be a seamless part of every subject, including the arts, she said. “This is about developing creative, critical thinking skills. Real problems don’t always have one solution. Plus integrated STEM lends itself to artistic expression in the visual, literary and performing arts.”
The new multi-purpose facility will include a large stage. Bradley believes children should be performing and speaking in front of people as early and as often as possible because it builds confidence.
“After all,” she said, “We’re preparing students for a global stage.”