CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — Clinton High School is graduating the next generation of innovators. The Anderson County school received the state’s STEM/STEAM designation for achieving higher standards.

“It’s really bridging gaps for them, and they are starting to see connections not just in math in science, but in all the curriculum they are in,” said Amy Haney, the school’s STEM coordinator.

Educators were shocked to learn how much money the school would be awarded to help fund its program for the next five years.

“It blew us away because we had already tried to manage what we were going to do with $10,000. We’re not even sure what all that looks like for $30,000 dollars right now,” said Haney.

STEM education is project-based learning that promotes critical thinking and encourages students to apply the concepts they are learning to their own life.

“It lights a fire in our students, that they take it beyond what they are learning in the classroom,” said Assistant Principal Amanda Powers.

Strong STEM teaching allows students to understand the importance of their work to the world around them.

“Teaching them to think critically, to be able to communicate and to collaborate and work with others are skills that are so vital regardless of what they do,” said Haney.

The school also qualified for grants to fund projects that support the school’s investment in kids, the workforce and the future.

Haney says they would like to use some of the money they were awarded to transform the library into a maker space and huddle space, so students have somewhere to collaborate and work on projects.