JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A growing trend in education is getting help from a coast industry. Ingalls Shipbuilding awarded thousands of dollars to help several schools expand in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
Students in 25 schools from South Mississippi and Alabama will soon see their STEM programs growing. Some of the teachers receiving a portion of close to $100,000 said their students are constantly expanding their horizons through new outlets.
"Through the STEM program, they can find that outlet," said Penny Dearman of East Central Middle School.
Educators were asked to explain their needs through an application process. Then, it was up to a review board to pick the recipients, who came from all across the coast. More than $85,000 went to schools in Mississippi and $14,000 to schools in Alabama.
"It's important for us to invest in those communities where our employees are actually coming from," said Ingalls Vice President of Human Resources and Administration Edmond Hughes. "We want to get students educated in STEM related areas. Hopefully, they'll go on and pursue education in STEM related fields and ultimately come to work for Ingalls Shipbuilding."
Schools from every education level were represented. There were several returning recipients, as well as first time programs.
Marie Bond is in the midst of her first year teaching STEM at Gautier Middle School. She already sees the benefit of having the class.
"Just being able to put their hands on all of this stuff. You know, they see the robots, they come into class and they say 'robots, robots,'" said Bond.
Bond's class was awarded almost $3,400 for more equipment to help with robotics competitions. The program is helping her students look ahead.
"It gives me a lot of knowledge to help me in my future with it," said eighth grader Kade Jones.
Bond said she's impressed to see many of her female students becoming interested in what STEM has to offer. One of those students is seventh grader Nakaila Nnguity.
"There's all these things that you can do in high school, and then it goes onto college, and it could be your career," said Nakaila.
Ingalls has given $709,818 to STEM programs at schools over the past eight years. This year, grants were given to schools in all three coastal counties, including Pascagoula High, Woolmarket Elementary, Hancock Middle and several others.