With one of the highest concentrations of scientists and engineers in the state — and even the country — it’s no wonder a STEM-infused education system tops the list of Oak Ridge’s greatest quality-of-life assets.
“Oak Ridge has a rich history of science and industry, and the city itself has a lot to offer in terms of quality of life. Our schools have long been recognized as a deciding factor for families when determining where to live,” says Greta Ownby, executive vice president, Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce. “Education has always been extremely important in Oak Ridge. It was the backbone of Oak Ridge's formation when we were started back during the Manhattan Project.”
Commitment to Quality
Ownby says the community commitment to education that was fostered in the 1950s continues today and can be seen in initiatives such as the free Wi-Fi program, which allows students to access the internet at many businesses in town. Oak Ridge Schools provides students with laptops to access online textbooks, complete homework assignments or conduct research for term papers, but not all students have reliable access to high-speed internet service at home.
“Our businesses wanted to offer Wi-Fi to those students without home access as well as to be a place where students can go to do their homework or study online while they're between ball games or after-school activities,” Ownby says. “Our chamber office is one such place. People would not normally think of this being a place that students would go to to do their homework, but we are in close proximity to the high school, and students are able to access our wireless from the practice fields and parking lot.”