Biology students at Rockvale High School will soon be able to test DNA samples and look for molecular-level fingerprints, thanks to a $9,500 grant from The Emil and Lily Hassan Teachers' Fund.
Rockvale teacher Rebecca Jones was recently awarded the grant. More than 25 teachers applied for funding, as part of the inaugural grant award offered by the Hassans.
"We are looking forward to the next wave, we had 28 applications last time, I'm sure we will have at least that many this time. They're (applicants) going to have more time to prepare for this year, last year they had 90 days," said Elias "Yaz" Hassan, chair of The Emil and Lily Hasssan Teachers' Fund.
Jones used the grant to purchase multiple pieces of equipment needed for the students to work with DNA samples.
"The grant will ensure that all students are getting the most out of their experience in biology," she said. "It's not just special to me but special to the students' as well."
Jones now has enough equipment for all her Biology I students and Advanced Placement Biology students to conduct molecular research throughout the semester.
"It was a tough decision, but we are excited to award our parents' first grant to Rebecca Jones for ‘Going Molecular,'" Yaz Hassan said.
Molecular research for Jones students will begin as early as December. Students will run DNA samples and immerse themselves in biotechnology, she said.
"Ultimately my students' will run DNA samples like a forensic scientist where we can see ‘who done it' based on your DNA fingerprint," Jones said.
Rockvale High is the first high school in Rutherford County with molecular biology, and it will benefit all science students at the school.
"We are absolutely thrilled that students have this opportunity to engage with Ms. Jones in this project, and we are truly excited for them and thankful to the Hassans and their interest in providing these opportunities for students," said Amelia Bozeman, executive director of the Business Education Partnership.
By KEAIRA LOLOW, Rutherford County Schools
Photo: Elias "Yaz" Hassan, chair of The Emil and Lilly Hassan Teacher Fund, stands with Amelia Bozeman of the Business Education Partnership, Rockvale Science teacher Rebecca Jones and Rockvale High Principal Steve Luker. (PHOTO / JAMES EVANS)