L&N STEM ranks No. 1

Susan EspirituDowntown, Our Town Youth

When Becky Ashe started with the vision of L&N Stem Academy in 2011, we in Knox County Schools who knew Becky knew it was going to be “something special.” It has exceeded even what anyone but Becky could have imagined.

Located downtown at 800 World’s Fair Park with an enrollment of 600 students with fewer sports teams, and based on lottery entrance, the state’s only regional STEM high school is ranked on 2024 US News & World Report as one of the Best High Schools in America, as No. 8 high school in Tennessee and the top school in East Tennessee including our Knox County Schools.

To put the ranking in context, L&N is behind magnet schools that have a test or academic requirement as part of their entrance which L&N does not, and three schools from Williamson County.

James Allen

Principal James Allen stressed important achievements occurring at L&N STEM Academy. The school is giving students exposure to the world beyond high school, and even beyond college, by preparing them for high-need and high-wage jobs that are needed in our region and the world, especially with East Tennessee being a hub for innovation in the STEM fields.

Allen says, “A lot of our success also lies in our direct, strategic partnerships and collaborations with local industries, higher education institutions and community organizations.

“In fact, each one of these is a main sponsor for our different pathways or ‘schools’ that students enter after their 9th grade year:

  1. The School of Computational Science & Cybersecurity (CGI)
  2. The School of Physics, Mechanics & Engineering (UTK Tickle College of Engineering)
  3. The School of Advanced Inquiry & Research (Battelle)
  4. The School of Design Thinking (PatDome Promotions)

“Over the past four years or so, we have seen a large increase in the number of our students attending prestigious universities all over the country and world, with students regularly being admitted to and being recruited by schools such as MIT, Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Vanderbilt and many others. This has everything to do with the incredible passion and work that our faculty put in to their practice and the effort of our students and families to see what ‘could be’ and not just what is currently around them.

“This also has a much to do with support from Knox County Schools in allowing us to ideate and innovate in our teaching practices and in how we operate as a school. We’ve been given the ability to think differently and to take risks in our approaches, and this is exactly what leads to the innovative ways that we operate and directly to the success that we have – on almost any metric.

“I am so proud of our faculty, our students and our families for these incredible accomplishments and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us because I truly think that the best is yet to come for our school and the impact that we will make on the East Tennessee and Knoxville community.”

PTSA president Kelli Harper said, “ ​I am extremely proud of and excited for the continued success of L&N STEM Academy. The success of this school is due to the leadership and dedication to excellence by the faculty and staff, unwavering support from the parents and the culture of independence the students embrace.”

All of us have a story and I want to tell yours! Send them to susan@knoxtntoday.com


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