GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Scott Niswonger works to improve education in the area through his foundation.
“Our mission has been around rural education, helping to build in those classrooms,” said Nancy Dishner, president and CEO of the Niswonger Foundation. “The best possible potential for students to get onto post-secondary education and be successful there and get on to a career path that can support them and their families.”
The Niswonger Foundation works closely with local school systems through different programs.
“What we’re working on right now is around STEM education, helping our teachers to be the best quality Science Technology Engineering and Math teachers they can be,” Dishner said. “But then also giving students an opportunity to try and experiment with lots of activities, both in class and outside class.”
Dishner told News Channel 11 that the foundation also provides tutoring and awards scholarships to students.
“We are tutoring about 3,000 students across 18 school districts,” Dishner said. “What I think that this does for Greeneville and for the region is it really brings that awareness, that quality education and preparing ourselves for our future is absolutely critical to community development and to economic development.”
South Greene Middle School teacher Jeanette Fillers tutors her students in math. She said it has made a big impact on student engagement in the classroom.
“It is unreal what these tutoring sessions do for these kids,” Fillers said. “It’s some of my lowest students and sometimes it’s not even my low ones. It’s just some that just need a little bit of extra help, give them that little extra push, that little extra confidence.”
Fillers said that by tutoring students one on one it allows her to focus on their needs.
“I like to focus on students who don’t necessarily struggle, but they don’t really open up in class very much, so I like to focus in on students where I know I can get some gains out of,” Fillers said. “And I know that I can really have a really close relationship with them.”
The Niswonger Foundation serves 13 counties in Northeast Tennessee and 17 school districts in the region.