Local teachers ‘STEMmersed’ into Surry-Yadkin EMC’s technology-driven business


Local teachers visit a solar farm as a part of a program bringing STEM into the classroom.

Local teachers visit a solar farm as a part of a program bringing STEM into the classroom.

DOBSON ─ Jennifer Sawyers, math teacher at East Surry High School, and Lori Gammons, fourth-grade teacher at Cedar Ridge Elementary School, spent two days with administrative professionals and electric linemen at Surry-Yadkin EMC this week, learning first-hand about the business of the cooperative and the technology that powers it.

The experience was part of Surry County Schools’ STEMmersion initiative, which will bring 30 educators into 18 businesses this summer and aims to better align classroom instruction with the needs of local job providers. During their time with the local not-for-profit, electric cooperative, Sawyers and Gammons traced the path of electricity, and focused specifically on the technology that helps enables Surry-Yadkin EMC to transmit, distribute, and deliver power reliably to their end consumers.

“This technology will impact my classroom instruction, too,” Sawyers said. “Now I can utilize the same software that is used by the co-op to help my students better understand trigonometric functions.”

Sawyers is referring to Smarthub, an online tool that enables individuals and businesses to explore their energy usage during any given hour; but, this tool would not be available had the co-op not made a significant investment in new smart meter technology.

“Smart meters allow us to provide our members with new tools to better manage their energy use and lower their bills,” said Greg Puckett, general manager of Surry-Yadkin EMC. “This investment not only helps members save money and better understand their electricity usage, but also makes our service more reliable.”

Gammons said she knows the co-op will need a skilled workforce as technology continues to advance. She feels that her students’ future success may hinge on their ability to use technology as a means of making real-world connections.

“My students already use iPads in the classroom,” Gammons said. “Now, they can use Smarthub to learn more about graphs, and the basics of energy usage.”

Although STEMmersion is currently connecting teachers and local businesses in Surry and Yadkin Counties during the summer, the partnerships that are built through STEMmersion are intended to last much longer. Surry-Yadkin also to wants to strengthen its partnership with area schools by offering field trips to visit the co-op’s solar farm, which will provide ongoing opportunities for students to learn more about solar energy and electrical distribution systems.

Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation provides electricity to 27,000 consumers throughout Surry, Yadkin, Stokes, Wilkes and Forsyth counties. Learn more about all the ways the co-op serves your community by visiting syemc.com.

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