Students and staff, district leaders, members of the Atlanta Board of Education, and several community stakeholders and partners gathered on Oct. 13 to celebrate the dedication of the newly renovated, state-of-the-art Stefanie S. Fasselin STEM lab at Emma Hutchinson Elementary School.
The $8.4 million building renovation was made possible thanks E-SPLOST funds. The STEM lab is dedicated to the late Fasselin, who was a devoted Delta Reading Buddies volunteer at Hutchinson and strategic communications manager with Delta Airlines.
The ribbon-cutting event featured remarks by Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring, Principal Dr. Shuanta Broadway-Daniel, Board Vice Chair Eshé Collins, and a special performance by the Hutchinson Musical Ensemble. The program also included special remarks by Delta Airlines representatives, along with a moving tribute by Beth Hulfeld, Fasselin’s mother.
During her remarks, Dr. Herring praised Hutchinson’s exemplary school leadership and acknowledged the school as a Cognia STEM-certified school.
“This environment supports the work of our incredible teachers and building leaders and provides the kind of space and technology you need in today’s classrooms and learning labs, and it makes coming to work in schools so much more fun for everyone when you have what you deserve to have,” Dr. Herring said.
“And if you’ve walked the walls of Hutchinson as I have, there’s just an energy and joy in this building the moment you enter that makes you want to be here, stay here, and learn and play here, and of course, lead here. This is an opportunity to show renovation and our E-SPLOST dollars at work in our community, and it’s already making a huge difference for our students.”
The newly renovated space features state-of-the art maker spaces, 3-D printers, a heat press, bookcases made of Delta airplane parts, snap circuits, and other innovative technology equipment.
Matt Sparks, vice president of Airport Operations for ATL Worldport, said the lab space is a manifestation of Fasselin’s biggest dreams. According to Sparks, the new space affords students the opportunity to dream big and work hard to unlock those dreams.
He said that Fasselin would be incredibly proud.
“I’m an engineer, and the first opportunity I had in my lifetime to work on snap circuits was when I was a sophomore at Georgia Tech. So, if we have kids who are 6, 7, 8, or 10 years old learning this stuff, imagine what the future holds for them. That’s the whole reason for this space. It’s wonderful to see the unveiling of this lab in Stephanie’s legacy, and it’s amazing to see what that’s turned into. And what a remarkable impression and impact she made. Through this lab, children who never had the opportunity to know Stephanie are going to be better because of her.”
Fasselin’s mother, Beth Hulfeld, described her daughter as a ferocious learner with a “beautiful soul” who loved reading and helping people – especially children. She said the lab embodies Fasselin’s spirit of learning and her desire to build confidence in children and to plant in them the seeds of curiosity.
“She believed that you can do hard things,” Hulfeld said. “You should be proud to have my daughter’s name represent this STEM lab. She was a woman of honor, integrity and virtue. She was a shining light for good in this somethimes dark world. Her goodness and beautiful spirit are here today and will continue to shine this world. She will continue to cheer on these special children. There is no doubt that Stephanie will push them forward, help them learn, and cheer their accomplishments from heaven.”
Principal Broadway-Daniel agreed, noting that the STEM lab is a special place where Hutchinson students can thrive for years to come.
“Our students are learning and they are confident, and we are so thankful to our teachers who choose to teach in the inner city, and for that we are most grateful.”