Stemtember Snapshot: Dr. Julia Gaines

Stemtember Snapshot: Dr. Julia Gaines

Published On:
Kyrstin Hill

Our next STEMtember Snapshot features Dr. Julia Gaines! Dr. Gaines is currently the High School Assistant Principal at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences (CSAS). Before CSAS, she was a math and science teacher for Hamilton County Schools (HCS) from 2000-2011. Dr. Gaines is an advocate for educational equity and has demonstrated her passion for all students within HCS and beyond. During her tenure as a teacher and now an administrator, Dr. Gaines has been awarded the Hamilton County Department of Education Teacher of the Year (2003), Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Administrator (2016), and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Administrator (2018). She has worked within her school and community as the STEM Coordinator for the Chattanooga Urban League before they implemented the program within the school system and with Girls Inc. and UTC a STEM advisor. She participated in the Teacher Leadership Project Cohort 1. She has served on the Dodson Avenue and Alton Park Board of Directors. She is a youth advisor for her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She is a member of the Order of the Engineer, Society of Women Engineers, and the National Society of Black Engineers. In addition, she is also a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Keep reading to learn more about Dr. Gaines!

Q. What is your favorite subject in STEM? Growing up I really did not have a favorite subject, but loved Math, Science, and anything technical.

Q. Did you go to college? If so, where and what did you study? Yes and I earned degrees from the following universities:

  • Tuskegee University, BS Electrical Engineering and Physics, May 1996
  • Tuskegee University, MS Electrical Engineering, May 1998
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, MS Education, May 2001
  • Tennessee Tech, EdS in Instructional Leadership, August 2009
  • Walden University, EdD in Administration for Teaching and Learning, April 2016

Q. What sparked your love for the STEM field?  Actually when I was in head start, I always talked about being an engineer and a scientist. So on a Saturday morning at the age of six, I decided to take our rotary telephone apart and can remember hearing my great-great grandmother, the late Pearl Tolbort, say, “You better put it back together and having it working by the time I finish breakfast.” Then in high school, I got the opportunity to work for EPB during my junior and senior year which changed my interest from Chemical Engineering to Electrical Engineering.

Q. Was there someone in your life that encouraged you to pursue a STEM related career?  Yes, my mother, Nazarene Crawford, who worked for  EPB for 35 years in the Engineering Department. She always told me to follow my dreams and if I could think it, then I could do it.

Q. What would you say to other girls or parents of girls who are interested in STEM fields?  Through hard work and determination you can strive and thrive in any career; especially those that have been deemed “men only”. Just think if  Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson would have listened to nay-sayers, then how would the world have viewed the US and it’s space program?  If you love to experiment/design, are a problem-solver, or techy, then STEM is right for you. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Feel free to reach out to me at, if you have additional questions.

Q.What do you love about your job the most? I love having the ability to touch and guide lives. It gives me great pleasure to have conversations with students and youth who want to explore educational and/or STEM options as a career. In addition, I get the opportunity to encourage adults who are thinking about going into the field of education and discussing with them the benefits of becoming a math, science, or technology teacher. It gives me great joy to be allowed to use my Electrical Engineering, Physics, and Educational background within my school, community, and across the country to help others achieve their dreams.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience in a STEM field? Yes, I got the opportunity to co-op with TVA during the construction of Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. I enjoyed designing and developing blueprints among other things. The summer of 2001, I worked with Girls Inc. and UTC as STEM Advisor. The program was designed for MS girls and we provided a week of  activities that included various areas of STEM from programming to engineering. I also became the STEM Coordinator of the Chattanooga Urban League before they implemented the STEM program within the district.