Briarcrest expands STEM program, adds new faculty member

briarcrest-logoBriarcrest Christian School is expanding its high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program to include engineering and aerospace, the school announced Monday.

Stacey Bonasso also has been hired as a new high school STEM teacher. Banasso will be teaming up with BCHS STEM teacher Hanley Hasseltine to expand the school’s program to include Honors Principles of Engineering (2018-19 school year) and Honors Aerospace Engineering (beginning in the 2019-20 school year).

Briarcrest’s current STEM program taught by Hasseltine offers students an introduction to engineering design, where students apply math, science and Engineering standards to hands-on projects. BCHS students wishing to take STEM classes must be recommended by current math and science teachers.

There is a two-year commitment for students wishing to take the STEM courses in high school. However, the course offerings extend over a three-year period.

Hasseltine has been a part of the Briarcrest family since 2001 as a teacher and coach. He currently teaches AP calculus, pre-calculus, Honors Physics II, and the new STEM program.

He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with degrees in both mathematics and physics and holds a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction from Freed-Hardeman University. Before his work at Briarcrest, Hasseltine worked for five years at Barnhart Crane & Rigging, where he pioneered their venture into the world of computer-aided drafting (CAD). He worked closely with both the engineering and sales teams to design and model job layouts and proposals, and he was integral in the development of a digital library of company equipment that could be used on a variety of projects.

“It is exciting to see how God has used Hanley’s prior work experience with CAD, as the first-year course of our STEM program is Introduction to Engineering Design, a course focusing on the development of drafting skills both on paper and the computer,” said BCS Headmaster Caron Swatley.

Banasso has an extensive background in aeronautics and engineering in the U. S. Air Force. She was an F-16 fighter pilot and was a flight commander and chief over squadron programming at Hill AFB in Utah. She was the first female F-16 pilot to ever fly in the 4th Fighter Squadron.

In April 2002, she was named chief of fighter operations at Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, La. Next, she was a T-38 instructor and chief of squadron programming at Vance AFB in Oklahoma. Most recently, Banasso held a position as the U.S. Air Force Academy admissions liaison in Memphis.

She has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering with aerospace interest from Worchester Polytechnic Institute, and she earned a master of science degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University.

Both STEM teachers have expertise in the math, aeronautics and engineering fields, allowing Briarcrest STEM students to learn from highly qualified teachers who have “real-world” application.