Press Releases

Chamber launches STEM Teacher Externship Program

Friday, 17 June, 2022

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Friday, 6/17/22) – Demonstrating its ongoing commitment to ‘lead from the front’ in career preparation, the Greater Memphis Chamber last week launched its STEM Teacher Externship Program. This new program will embed teachers from across West Tennessee in local businesses to give them a greater understanding of careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Juice Plus+, and Buckman International began hosting four paid teacher externs for two weeks beginning on June 20, giving them a unique experience that will enable them to better teach and advise students interested in pursuing high-quality careers in STEM.

The STEM Teacher Externship Program is an initiative of the Greater Memphis Chamber Chairman’s Circle, which is made up of more than 145 of the region’s most influential C-suite executives. The Workforce Task Force of the Chairman’s Circle is currently spearheading several initiatives to closely align classroom learning with future-ready career opportunities and to accelerate skills training.

The program is closely related to the Chamber’s Prosper Memphis 2030 strategic growth announced last week to create a more inclusive and prosperous Memphis. One of the goals of the plan is to graduate 20,000 college students with STEM degrees by 2030, with minorities holding 45% of those degrees. Externships will help achieve that goal, which will make Memphis more of a region of choice for new and expanding advanced industry firms, which are a major source of inclusive, high-quality STEM jobs.

“One of the first questions businesses ask as they look to move to Memphis is about the availability our skilled workforce,” said Ted Townsend, chief economic development officer of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “The STEM Teacher Externship Program is another example we can point to that shows our region is dedicated to building one of the most robust and inclusive talent pipelines in the nation.”

After a highly competitive application process, the Greater Memphis Chamber is pleased to announce the following participants in its 2022 STEM Teacher Externship Program:

  • Raven Lomax: Lomax teaches STEM (grades 6-8) at Power Center Academy in Memphis. Ms. Lomax has been placed with Buckman International.
  • Bethony Cousins: Cousin teaches STEM II Applications (grades 9-12) at East High School in Memphis. Ms. Cousins has been placed with Buckman International.
  • Gene Robinson II: Robinson teaches Agricultural Science, Introduction to Plant Science, Food Science, and Principles of Food Science (grades 9-12) at Bolton High School in Memphis. Mr. Robinson has been placed with The Juice Plus+ Company.
  • Jodi Woody: Woody teaches Biology (grades 9-12) at the Medical District High School in Memphis. Ms. Woody has been placed with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

Teacher externs participate in meaningful professional development activities designed by their host business, making the externship a uniquely industry-centric experience. Those experiences include job-shadowing, facilities tours, hands-on job-related activities, and more. The industry and technical knowledge teachers gain will help them enhance their curriculum and educate their students on both the skills required to enter the workforce and obtain a high-demand career.

In addition to stipends, teacher externs will receive a voucher for classroom supplies to help incorporate STEM-related problem-solving activities in the classroom, potentially improving the learning experience for hundreds of students in the first year of the program alone. In the years ahead, the Chamber plans to expand the program by adding more hosting companies and more externship participants.

“We expect the STEM Teacher Externship Program to become one of the Chamber’s flagship programs as we work to create new and better pathways to careers,” said Amity Schuyler, senior vice president of Workforce Development for the Chamber. “Without business input, classroom curriculum can’t possibly keep pace with advancements in the workplace. We’re giving teachers the first-hand knowledge they need to help their students learn about careers they may have never even dreamed of pursuing before.”

Host companies provided the following statements about the STEM Teacher Externship Program:

  • Buckman President & CEO Junai Maharaj: “We want teachers to be able to see how the world uses chemistry through Buckman’s chemical and digital solutions that make products more effective and more sustainable for our planet. We design our program so teachers can experience Buckman’s innovation and manufacturing firsthand. In addition, teachers can learn how customers use our products, how our products impact what they produce, and how we improve their manufacturing processes. Teachers can then share this knowledge with their classrooms.”
  • Juice Plus+ Chairman Paulo L. Teixeira: “As an organization deeply invested in health and wellness, we want teachers to see how agriculture and agriscience are critical components of our nutritional philosophy, mission, and vision. Helping teachers and students understand the relationship between agriculture, science and nutrition is more important than ever.”
  • Methodist Le Bonheur CEO Michael Ugwueke: “When people think of careers with us, they naturally think of our robust patient care, but there are so many other career pathways in our organization. We always want teachers to encourage our future doctors and nurses, but we also want teachers to share with their students that there are other roles in health care that can be explored as well.”

Learn more about the Teacher Externship Program and meet our 2022 STEM Teacher Externs here.

About the Greater Memphis Chamber: One of Memphis’ oldest institutions, dating back to 1838, the Greater Memphis Chamber is a privately funded nonprofit that serves as the region’s lead economic development organization and the “Voice of Memphis Business” on local, state, and national issues. The Chamber’s mission is to relentlessly pursue prosperity for all — through economic and workforce development, pro-growth advocacy, and by providing support and resources to its investors, which include many of the region’s largest employers. For more information about the Chamber, visit and Also, follow the Chamber on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, and sign up for its weekly newsletter, Memphis Fourword.