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Thermo Fisher Scientific and Cherokee Heights Middle School: Partners for More Than a Decade

Left: CHMS school counselor Elizabeth Zavala, CHMS social worker Annie Yates, and TFS Software Manager Huimin Harrison, celebrate the delivery of boxes of winter gear from TFS to CHMS. Right: CHMS students enjoying lunch at school.

A Look at the Thermo Fisher Scientific and Cherokee Heights Middle School
Adopt-a-School Partnership

Over the past 10+ years, the students and staff at Cherokee Heights Middle School (CMHS) and the employees at Thermo Fisher Scientific (TFS) have been building a special bond through their Adopt-a-School (AaS) partnership.   

The school sits less than 2.5 miles from TFS headquarters on the southwest side of Madison. The school is tucked into a residential neighborhood near Midvale Boulevard and Nakoma Road and serves 620 students in grades sixth through eighth. 

Engaging artwork and messages line the hallways, and students feel welcome, celebrated, and supported by their teachers and staff.  

But many CHMS families face challenges that go beyond schoolwork – a high percentage of them qualify for free or reduced-cost meals and struggle to cover the cost of school supplies and warm winter gear. So, TFS has stepped in to help fill the gaps. 

For TFS, the opportunity to support their community and deepen employee engagement through corporate citizenship, combined with the opportunity to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) was the impetus for their partnership with CHMS. Their partnership was established in May 2012, and since then, TFS has consistently invested a robust combination of human, material, and financial resources into the CHMS community.   

Currently, all new TFS hires learn about the AaS partnership with CHMS as part of their orientation and help to assemble hundreds of ‘snack packs’ that are distributed to CHMS classroom teachers to give to their students as needed. In addition to the ‘snack packs,’ TFS has also provided countless other material contributions over the years, including school supplies, warm winter gear, science kits, microscopes and other science instruments, and hundreds of lab coats.  TFS team members also enthusiastically share their time, attention, talents, and experiences with students, staff, and teachers – from serving as classroom guest speakers to participating in science and career fairs and helping with rocket design and launch projects. 

(Left) Thermo Fisher Scientific donated drawstring black bags containing goggles, rubber gloves, an apron, and a small notebook, among other things. (Right) CHMS students performing a science experiment using TFS-donated instruments.

“Cherokee Heights Middle School staff, students, and families are so grateful for the support of Thermo Fisher Scientific. They have been so flexible, understanding, and responsive to the needs of our school community. Because of their generosity, we have been able to provide winter gear, clothing, and snacks for our students. We are so thankful!” commented CHMS Social Worker, Abby Ray.

CHMS’s gratitude for the human and material resources provided by TFS is endless, but it is some of the experiential learning opportunities made possible through their AaS partnership that have had the greatest impact on students. Over the years, TFS has funded opportunities for students to visit STEM-related destinations, such as the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at UW-Madison, the Madison Science Museum, and Discovery World in Milwaukee. These field trips expose students to experiences that they wouldn’t necessarily get in the classroom and spark a sense of wonder and curiosity about the possibility of a career in a STEM-related field. 

CHMS students test the water quality during a field trip to Aldo Leopold Nature Center, funded by Thermo Fisher Scientific.

“We are very, very fortunate that the [Madison Public Schools Foundation], through their Adopt-a-School program, set up an excellent partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific. Today, we are here for a science field trip to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and Thermo Fisher has paid for the entire trip which is so incredibly helpful because we have students whose families do not find it easy to finance these kinds of trips. This kind of partnership has just meant so much to us,” commented CHMS DLI Teacher, Kristen Scott during a field trip with her students.

Continuing their support of the Foundation, and the broader Madison community, Thermo Fisher Scientific will be graciously hosting the 2023 Schools Make Madison Summit on Thursday, April 27 from 7:30 am to 11:00 am. Please join us to learn directly from current Adopt-a-School partners about the mutual benefits of this program, and other ways businesses and community organizations can support our public school students and staff.

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