In the Classroom
The Innovation Academy
February 11, 2018
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Maureen Henderson

The Innovation Academy is a magnet program located at Springfield Middle School in Robertson County, Tennessee. The program currently serves two hundred sixty scholars in sixth through eighth grade. Scholars have a team of two teachers, one teacher instructs STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and the other instructs REACH (Reading/English to Analyze Culture and History).

What does STEAM look like at the Innovation Academy?

S – Science

The Innovation Academy has a brand new, state-of-the-art science lab that scholars visit weekly. Vanderbilt University partners with the magnet program, providing hands on Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science (VSVS) kits that aligned to the curriculum.

T – Technology

Scholars at the Innovation Academy have one-to-one technology access through the use of laptops. The school also has two computer labs, along with iPad carts that are accessible to all teachers to use within their classroom.

E – Engineering

Scholars have many opportunities to develop engineering skills through Project Based Learning or PBLs. Scholars supported the state literacy initiative by building little libraries for the community. In addition, scholars have worked on acoustical designs for noise reduction in the school cafeteria and the Robertson County Teacher Center.

A – Arts

The auditorium at Springfield Middle School recently received a three million dollar renovation. The Robertson County Players presented Beauty and the Beast on opening night, following a special ribbon cutting ceremony. Scholars can now enjoy participating in drama, choir and band in a fabulous new facility.

M – Math

Mastering math standards is fun and engaging at the Innovation Academy! Scholars have the opportunity to participate in the annual middle school math competition through Austin Peay University. In addition, we are collaborating with Muzology, a music based learning system, designed to enhance student confidence and success in mathematics.

What does REACH look like at the Innovation Academy?

Reading/ English Language Arts and Social Studies standards are integrated through close reading activities and analysis of historical non-fiction and literature.

Scholars in REACH also participate in Project Based Learning (PBLs). They gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to authentic, complex questions, problems and challenges. For example, when studying the prehistoric era, scholars create a type of tool, shelter or clothing used during that time in history. A prehistoric museum is then replicated at school to exhibit scholar projects. Parents, peers and community members are all invited to attend. A similar model is used when studying agricultural adjustment. Scholars sketch and design raised garden beds and then present those using concrete models, visuals, and technology.

In addition, teachers often correlate literary novels with Social Studies units. For example, in sixth grade while studying ancient cultures, scholars read books such as: the Egypt Game, Chinese Cinderella and Percy Jackson. Evidence of speaking and listening skills and standards can clearly be seen during our amazing TED Talk program. Scholars chose a topic of interest, complete the necessary research, and then write and present their TED Talk to a live audience.

The STEAM and REACH design make this magnet program a truly epic environment in which to learn. Couple the high-level academics with an atmosphere of kindness, and you have described the Innovation Academy!

Vision Statement: Every single day we will strive to ensure that everyone is safe and respected, and that all scholars are responsible for working to master all standards.

Mission: Providing a well-lit path in the pursuit of purpose and happiness.

Want to learn more about the Innovation Academy?

Visit our website:

Follow us on Twitter:   #iAinAction

Like us on Facebook: Robertson County Innovation Academy

Maureen Henderson is the Innovation Academy Coordinator for Springfield Middle School’s Magnet Program. She has been an educator in Robertson County since 1997. Maureen taught fourth grade at Greenbrier Elementary School for seven years. Previously, she taught twelve years in sixth grade at Greenbrier Middle School. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Georgian Court College and a Master’s degree in school counseling from Western Kentucky University. Maureen is a member of the Tennessee Teacher Leader Network. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.

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