Which Rutherford teachers got BEP mini-grants?

Dec 11, 2017 at 11:00 am by Voice Wire

Drone technology is all the rage these days, and Blackman High School teacher Ken Hardison wants to tap into that fever with students. 

But instead of allowing students to toy-around and possibly damage expensive equipment, Hardison has a plan on how to gauge student interest in the drone field before turning them loose with an actual drone. 

For his proposal, Hardison has been awarded a classroom mini-grant for $500 by the Business Education Partnership and Nissan North America. His proposal was one of 41 funded for the upcoming spring semester and announced during a breakfast ceremony at the Stones River Country Club on Friday, Dec. 8. 

“Obviously drones are growing in interest so my plan is to purchase three drone simulators,” said Hardison, who named his proposal — rather humorously — “My Teacher Drones On and On, Part 1.”

The purpose of the program will be to determine if students mainly want to play with drones for fun or if there is real interest in pursuing the career aspects of drone technology, he said. If successful, the program could expand along with student interest.

“It will be a training program they use before a real drone,” said Hardison, explaining it’s similar to how real pilots must first learn on simulators. 

The mini-grant program first started in 1989 at the urging of former Nissan executive Emil Hassan. 

Hassan said in the seventh grade, one of his teachers demonstrated in a lab how to create electricity using magnets. Hassan was fascinated and wanted to know what types of careers would use electricity. The teacher then explained that those types of people are known as engineers, Hassan said. 

“So I became an engineer,” Hassan explained. “That became the impact the teacher had on my life.”

Hassan approached educators here in the late 80s about a way to ensure local students had the same types of experiences with their teachers, which is what led to the formation of the Business Education Partnership and Nissan’s classroom mini-grant program.

Hassan has since retired from Nissan but serves as the chairman of the BEP. 

BEP Executive Director Amelia Bozeman said next year, the organization will celebrate its 30th anniversary. It’s amazing, she added, because Nissan has been involved in giving back to the community long before corporate community involvement was popular. 

“Nissan invested in our community through that program,” Bozeman said. 

As part of the program, teachers with Rutherford County Schools and Murfreesboro City Schools are invited to submit proposals each semester. The BEP then scores those proposals and determines which will be funded. 

The full list of spring 2018 Nissan mini-grant awardees follows.



School Name

Name of Project

Sheila Berry

Barfield Elementary

Eyes, and Hearts, and Brains, Oh My

Christi Brownlee. Julie Stump

Barfield Elementary

Ready, Set, STEM!

Gayle Dawson

Blackman High School

A Bridge of Connection

Rebecca Jones

Blackman High School

Glow Big or Go Home!

Ken Harrison

Blackman High School

My Teacher Drones On and On, part 1

Zach Martin

Blackman Middle

Here Comes the Sun

Stacey Faircloth

Brown's Chapel Elementary

The Sensational Senses

Scarlett Murphy

Central Magnet

Engineering In the Hizzzous

Scarlett Murphy, Eve Harrison

Central Magnet School

Biomed Meets Engineering

Marc Guthrie

Central Magnet School

Building for the Future

Dawn Powell

Christiana Middle School

Student Engineers...Start Your Engines

Eric Fann



Rebecca Benson

Kittrell Elementary

Which Came First the Chicken or the Egg

Christina Dozier, Sameria McClain, Carrie Buck, Shannon Floyd

La Vergne Lake Elementary

Let's Get Electrical

Jeff Porter

Oakland High School

Deepening Student Understanding of Redox through Hands-on experience

Nicole Stirbens

Rock Springs Middle School

Helping Hand

Carol Parker

Rockvale Middle School

Circuit Playground

Laura Martin

Siegel High School

Battle of the Bots in the ‘Boro

Laura Martin, Jason Veal

Siegel High School

Fabrication of Battle Bots

Riley Connolly

Siegel High School

Prosthetic Party

Hunter Lee

Siegel Middle School

Busy Book for the Blind

Hunter Lee

Siegel Middle School

Charged Up for STEM

Miriam Lee

Siegel Middle School

Confused Compasses

Katie Harris

Siegel Middle School

Hydraulics for STEMaholics!

Mandy Franks

Smyrna Elementary

Amazing Ants

Greg DeMario

Smyrna Elementary School

Take the Solar Challenge

Jennifer Lodl

Smyrna Elementary School

Tang It Up In Math

Stephanie Berger

Smyrna High School

Tetrahedon Kites

Amanda Hodges

Smyrna Middle School

3D Printing: Creative Toy Engineering

Jason Psutka

Smyrna Middle School

Circuit Scribe

Meghan Vigil

Smyrna Middle School

Coding for Confidence

Nichole Walje, Nikki DeSalvatore

Stewarts Creek Elementary


Davina Dean, Kellie Groce

Stewarts Creek Elementary

If I Built a Car...a STE(A)M Team Challenge

Melody Todd

Stewarts Creek Elementary

Survival of the Fittest using STEM

Kaci Allison, Andie Martin, Leah Stafford, Bethany Trainer, Sara Martin, Kelsey Dunn, Vickie Bridges, Holly May

Stewarts Creek Elementary School

Reuse Old News

Pam Stewart

Stewarts Creek High School

Organ Inspection Through Rodent Dissection

Pam Stewart

Stewarts Creek High School

Put your proteins in, take your proteins out, put your proteins in and twist them all about

Kelly Sellars, Ashley Pennington, Lauren Flanagan, and Tara Babb

Walter Hill Elementary

Expressway to Engineering

Dillon Clemons, Kristin Lorence

Walter Hill Elementary School

Coding Robots in 5th Grade

Kaley Lea

Walter Hill Elementary School

STEM Stories

Gina McClanahan, Leila Hinkle, Lynn Womack

Walter Hill School

Fractions That Make Design Sense

Leigh Morris, Threasa Conley, Janice Howse

Whitworth Buchanan Middle School

Chemistry in Our World

Diane Ranney

Whitworth Buchanan Middle School

Engineering BioPlastics

Leigh Morris, Threasa Conley, Janice Howse

Whitworth Buchanan Middle School

How Attractive Can I Get?

Diane Ranney

Whitworth Buchanan Middle School

Hydroponics Project


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