Longtime school board member Craig Denny and his wife, Terry, have donated $100,000 to the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation to fund district initiatives around STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.
Denny, an engineer by trade, has been a member of the school board since 1997 and has served four terms as its president. The money will establish the Denny Family STEM Fund through the foundation which can support the purchase of equipment, curriculum development, instruction, professional development or specialized student research.
Linda Roser, executive director of SMEF, said the money will create a long-term endowment but that use of the money is not limited to just the earnings, it can be tapped right away to make a difference in the district’s STEM programs.
Denny and his wife graduated from Iowa State University of Science and Technology where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering and she earned a bachelor’s in elementary education. Terry Denny worked in the district from 1992 until retiring in 2008.
“We have benefitted from our science-based education and we believe our support of STEM education throughout Shawnee Mission will help spark the interest of current and future students to pursue education and careers in engineering, science and many other technical fields yet to be discovered,” Denny said.
The announcement of the gift this morning was made in the biotechnology classroom of Brenda Bott at SM West. The class is one of the district’s signature programs. Bott said the program has some older equipment that needs to be replaced, as an example of how funds could be used. She said many biotechnology workers have a high school education and the program trains students to immediately enter the workforce and to prepare for college careers.