PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Thirty-one schools along the Gulf Coast are better prepared to teach their students Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills thanks to the generosity of Mississippi’s largest private employer.
Friday, Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula handed out grants totaling $100,000. Some teachers received checks for a few hundred dollars, while others totaled in the thousands. The company considers every dime an investment in the future.
“Funding for some of the sciences, STEM stuff is hard to come by. So without this, there was no way I could get the 3-D printers for my kids,” Johnathon May said.
STEM will keep students flying high into the future for teacher David Weigle.
“Students will learn to program, build and fly quadcopters, fixed wing unmanned aircraft and so without this it would not be possible,”Weigle said.
Small rural schools were also the benefactors of this corporate giving. Kimberly Lumpkin is a teacher with a special mission.
“In our George County gifted program, we are always trying to find ways for our students to have hands on opportunities so they can build and connect,” Lumpkin said.
Now obviously, one of the reasons that Ingalls is handing out this cash is they want to be a good community partner, they want to be a good corporate citizen. But there’s also another reason.
“From an Ingalls standpoint, we would love for these individuals one day to join our organization after they’ve gone off and gotten their education," said Vice-President of Human Resources Edmond Hughes. "But if they don’t come to Ingalls and they go into STEM related items, and it helps our community, that’s also a fantastic item.”
What’s also fantastic is the feeling about the shipyard teachers were left with at the end of the program.
“They put so much time and energy in giving back to the community and they focus on so much on science, engineering, and math for the students. It shows the students how important it is,” Shawn Chesser said.
Ingalls has awarded these grants for the past 11 years. During that time, more than $1 million has been donated by the company.