Last September, the South Carolina Aquarium identified two areas in need of saving, both vital to the fulfillment of its mission: The Sea Turtle Care Center and their award-winning education programming. Through the Our World Without campaign, the Aquarium appealed to the community to support these programs. Rising to the occasion and making the largest single contribution of the campaign, Dominion Energy is championing the present and future of Aquarium School Programs.
Dominion Energy School Programs serve students across South Carolina, from kindergarten through 12th grade. These programs are grade-specific and standards-based, complementing the curriculum set by teachers. As schools were unable to physically visit this year, the Aquarium education team worked tirelessly to convert lessons to a virtual format, ensuring that the students would not miss out on the Aquarium experience. Through December, nearly 3,000 students from 46 schools across the state were reached through these virtual programs.
Dominion Energy found inspiration in the reciprocal nature of the Aquarium’s relationship with the community. Their flexibility to provide educational experiences despite numerous obstacles was met with an outpouring of support in a time of need. Included in that support, Dominion Energy’s gift of $500,000 helps foster this relationship further, allowing the Aquarium to continue offering School Programs to South Carolina students for free. These programs serve as an indispensable resource, paving the path to STEM careers, a topic of particular importance to Rodney Blevins, president of Dominion Energy South Carolina.
“We are proud to support a wide variety of educational initiatives across the communities we serve, and education is at the heart of what the South Carolina Aquarium does every day,” said Blevins. “This gift will reinforce the critical role of STEM-based classroom activities as the Aquarium continues to inspire a passion for environmental stewardship in students from all across our state.”
This infusion of cash not only stabilizes the current output of Dominion Energy School Programs but allows the education team to look ahead. During the 2018-2019 school year, the last full year of programming without interruption, the Aquarium served 6,300 students from 115 schools in 31 different counties in South Carolina. Jaime Thom, school programs manager at the Aquarium, is excited about the lasting impacts of Dominion Energy’s gift moving forward.
“We look forward to growing our reach and serving more students in the coming years. Thanks to Dominion Energy we’ll be able to provide professional development for teachers and engage with youth in ways we have never been able to before. What a fantastic opportunity to grow and lead the way in education,” exclaims Thom.
Dominion Energy’s commitment to serving students will strengthen with the recent appointment of Clarence Wright, division manager of gas operations at Dominion Energy South Carolina, to the Aquarium board of directors. A Clemson graduate and engineering professional, Mr. Wright knows firsthand the important role STEM-based experiential learning plays in a student’s future endeavors. As a board member, Mr. Wright will lend his expertise to inform decisions and grow Aquarium education efforts to new heights.
For more information about Dominion Energy School Programs, visit scaquarium.org/schoolprograms.
(PICTURED from L-R: Anthony S. Dixon, ED.D., Executive Director of Academics and Innovation – Berkeley County School District; Brian Thill, Aquarium Director of Education; Clarence Wright, Division Manager of Gas Operations at Dominion Energy South Carolina; Jaime Thom, Aquarium School Programs Manager; Emily Swanson, Community volunteer; Jonathan Zucker, Chairman of Aquarium Board of Directors; Kevin Mills, Aquarium President and CEO)
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